It was one set with players from two professional basketball leagues. The 1971-72 Topps set consisted of 233 cards, with NBA players up to card #144 and the rest were from the ABA, the American Basketball Association. It was the first time Topps had included the ABA in its set and being in those packs was a big coup for the upstart ABA.
After two seasons of large cards, Topps returned to the standard card size this year. The 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inch cards still had plenty of stats on the back, as well as a Topps cartoon drawing about the player.
Rookies and Stars in the 1971-72 Topps Basketball Set
The set contains a number of good rookie cards but no one great superstar that collectors look for but it's the Hall of Famers such as Pete Maravich, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Lou Alcindor and others who stand out.
Fans of big men can find rookie cards of Dave Cowens, Bob Lanier, Zelmo Beaty and Dan Issel.
There are rookie cards of Larry Brown and Rudy Tomjanovich, both exceptional coaches. Tomjanovich surrounded center Hakeem Olajuwon with outside shooters and defeated the Knicks and Magic for two NBA championships. Larry Brown is famous for coaching most of the teams in the NBA! Still active today, Brown coached the Detroit Pistons to the 2004 NBA title and had success with the 76ers, Pacers, Clippers and numerous other NBA and college squads.
The set included some high scorers like Rick Barry, Nate Archibald and Spencer Haywood. Haywood won an Olympic gold medal and also one NBA title, in ABA and NBA basketball he averaged 20.3 points per game. Archibald won a title with the Celtics and averaged 18.8 points per game for his career.
Some basketball fans will think of Rick Barry as the father of the Barry boys who were good players in their own right but older ones will remember Rick's ABA seasons with a 30.5 points per game scoring average. Rick Barry is also famous for shooting accuracy. Few were as good at hitting free throws as Barry's 90% career number indicates. He led the NBA in free throw percentage six times and in one game hit 14 free throws in one quarter with his underhanded style. When the Warriors won the 1975 NBA title it was Rick Barry who won the NBA Finals MVP award. Barry rookies are quite reasonable on eBay.
Complete sets of 1971-72 Topps basketball sell for $400-500 in higher grades. As always, prices depend largely on condition and the scarceness of a particular card in high grade.
Even graded star cards--except those at the highest levels--are very affordable. Common cards in '7' or '8' often sell for just a few dollars.
The 1971-72 Topps basketball set also came with an insert 'trio' sticker, black bordered stickers featuring three peel-off players. High grade examples of sticker cards that feature superstars and remain intact often bring impressive money. Scroll through listings below to see some better cards being offered now.