1981-82 Topps Basketball Cards

1981-82 Topps Basketball Cards

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In the days before the Internet made reaching out to collectors a lot easier, Topps did something with its basketball set in 1981-'82 that probably confounded a lot of collectors. The set was distributed in three separate regions.

There were 198 cards in the entire set, with 66 being part of the National set. There were then three separate 44-card sets called East, Midwest and West. In other words, a collector in New York would get cards from the National set along with the 44 East cards, while one in Chicago would get the same 66 National cards and 44 Midwest cards. While this may have been done to account for team preferences, it also required fans to correspond with other collectors (then done largely through the mail and in hobby publications) at a time where basketball collectors weren't as organized as they are today.

Card fronts feature a player photo, with a starburst design in the lower left corner that contained his name, team and position. Card backs featured a circle in the upper left corner with the card number in front of a hoop. The player's name and vital stats were placed to the right of that. Below the hoop was a cartoon about the player, with year-by-year statistics and a short write-up taking up the rest of the space.

Players are grouped together by team in the main set and then inside whichever regional set they were placed. The teams are then alphabetically arranged inside those sets.
There are some subsets to be found. Cards #44-66 in the National set feature Team Leaders in three categories. The last several cards in each regional set feature Super Action cards of players who (except for Kevin Washington of the Bullets) appeared in the National set. Regional cards are slightly scarcer than their National counterparts.

Key rookies include Kevin McHale, Bill Laimbeer, Mike Dunleavy, Jim Paxson, Larry Smith and Rick Mahorn.

Key 1981-82 Topps Basketball Cards:


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(83) 1981-82 Topps rc lot #W99 Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson NM+
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1981-82 Topps Basketball #101 Larry Bird Super Action MINT
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1981-82 Topps Basketball Card Checklist



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Chris is an avid vintage sports card collector who is The Cardboard Connection's resident expert of all things vintage.

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