Panini has extended their NBA trading card license. The new multi-year deal gives the card maker exclusive rights to NBA trading cards and stickers. Kobe Bryant will also continue to be a big part of Panini's products.
"My kids get to make fun of Daddy's afro," said Bryant in a conference call to discuss Panini's extended deal and basketball cards, in general. "It's just cool. It's something you can pass around," the Lakers superstar continued when talking about the impact of trading cards.
"[It] continues to expand the game. It gets the players involved," said Bryant. " does a great job of positioning the sports they're involved in."
Bryant continued to reflect fondly back to when he was a kid, going to card shops and thinking how cool it would be to be on a card one day.
"Our companies share a collective interest in promoting our brands worldwide,” said Sal Larocca, NBA Executive Vice President Global Merchandising Group in a press release. “Panini has continually demonstrated the ability and commitment to creating products that appeal to our fans on a global basis.”
"One of the primary goals on the NBA is to take as far and as wide as we can," Larocca continued during a conference call. "Trading cards have historically played a major role. It catches fans on a day-to-day basis."
Panini is aiming to expand the basketball card market even bigger with their new license, particularly in China. Currently, Panini has NBA collectibles in more than 40 territories worldwide.
Panini America CEO Mark Warsop pointed to some in-roads they've made overseas, "We've managed to expand in the Far East." He pointed to 2012-13 Hoops. In North America, collectors can find the set with different configurations for both retail and hobby markets. Warsop explained there is another version made exclusively for China that has a unique make-up.
When asked about the increasingly digital landscape of the world, particularly when it comes to capturing kids' attention, Warsop was quick to point out there are some things iPads and Smart Phones can't do.
"We've always found that what you can't take away is the excitement of opening a pack," Warsop said. "That excitement can't be replicated in a digital format."
Panini has been the only licensed NBA card manufacturer since the start of the 2009-10 season. The length and details of the extension were not released.