When collectors look at the 1977-78 Topps set for rookie cards they see two centers, Robert Parish and Darryl Dawkins. Both had entertaining careers although they went about their basketball in very different ways.
The Parish rookie card may have been forgotten about if he wasn’t part of one of the biggest trades in NBA history. Parish had spent four years with the Golden State Warriors and developed into a solid center, but the Warriors had won only 24 games in season 1979-80 and were interested in the top overall pick. The Celtics jumped on the offer and also got the third pick in the draft out of the deal, which they turned into Kevin McHale. Parish won three titles in Boston, and became known as “The Chief”. You can usually buy a PSA 9 graded Parish rookie for less than $75 on eBay–quite a bargain.
Dawkins not only had many nicknames, he also gave names to some of his dunks. Chocolate Thunder broke backboards with slams called Cover Your Head, Rim-Wrecker, Gorilla, and many others. Dawkins was ahead of his time, going to the NBA without playing college basketball. His best season was 1983-84, his second with the Nets after playing his early years in Philadelphia. His rookie card is generally less than $20.
Adrian Dantley and Mitch Kupchak also have rookie cards in the set. Timing can be everything, and for titles in the NBA Dantley just missed out. He was a Laker, but was traded away before the 1979-80 season. Kupchakwas a solid backup power forward and center for the Bullets and Lakers.
Topps trimmed its set to 132 cards for 1977-78 and would keep it that size for two more years as the league’s popularity waned before the arrival of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Centering is often a major issue with this set, which went heavy on action poses. The set does have sort of a “high-end” feel to it because of the type of card stock used.
A complete 1977-78 Topps basketball set can usually be had for under $75, but as always, the condition of the key rookies and Hall of Famers plays a major role in price.