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1976-77 Topps Basketball Cards

By Patrick Mondout

This is one of the most memorable sets in any sport of the Super70s - though any set featuring guys named Corky Calhoun, Butch Beard, and Ticky Burden automatically qualifies. These cards were really big - bigger than the "tall boys" of the early Super70s. A full 3⅛ x 5 inches and great for autographs. The price of wax packs returned to 10, but you only received six cards instead of the usual ten - at least they were bigger.

If you have not seen them in person then I'm afraid the pictures below won't help. They may look like like ordinary basketball cards, but you need to hold these larger than life cards in your hand to appreciate how cool they were to a child (with much smaller hands) of the Super70s. And while I will always be partial to the 1978-79 set for sentimental reasons, this was really the last classic set of basketball cards Topps ever produced.

All of this is true despite some truly uninspired photos. Take a look at Dr. J on the right and the David Thompson rookie below. They are on the bench! Why not show one of them dunking over Artis Gilmore or Maurice Lucas? At least the size of the front allows for the largest unobstructed photos in the history of Topps basketball cards - even with the large letters spelling out the team nickname down the left side of the card. 

There were some great shots, however. Take a look at the card of Phil Jackson impersonating Kareem with a sky hook while Wes Unseld looks on (below). And check out that card of Darnell Hillman (below) sporting one of the greatest afros you're likely to see in this lifetime or the next (though Oscar Gamble deserves props too). Several of the players are wearing necklaces, including Otto Moore, Mickey Johnson, Ernie DeGregorio, Jo Jo White, Dwight Jones, and Bird Averitt (at least his is color-coordinated with his uni - see below).

Speaking of photos, this was the first year that Topps relied almost exclusively on photos taken in Landover, Maryland - home of the Washington Bullets (you can tell from all the red, white and blue old-school Bullets home jerseys - which I believe are the best hoops jerseys of all time - in the backgrounds of most cards). From this point until Topps stopped printing basketball cards in 1982, the vast majority of Topps basketball cards were taken in the Capital Centre - most likely by a single, anonymous photographer (if you know who it was, please let me know). Those that weren't taken in at the Cap Center were usually shot at Nets home games. With all the shots of guys shooting over Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, you might get the false impression that they didn't play defense! 

The card backs are by far the best Topps produced in the modern card era (which I arbitrarily suggest ended in 1989). They feature sections for both professional and college statistics as well as a the obligatory section for vitals and a brief biography. They also feature a "how to play basketball" cartoon at the bottom (see the Dave Cowens card back below), or one of a few other types of educational cartoons about basketball. If only they had been printed on white card stock!

In addition to the rookie card of the second most exciting player of the era (Thompson), there are also first-year cards of Lloyd Free (who thought enough of himself to change his name to World B. Free as in "All-World" Free - I kid you not), Gus Williams, and NBA rookie of the year, Alvan Adams.


1976-77 Topps at a Glance
Back Checklist Wax Pack
Nice bling? All-Stars Skywalker
Zen Master Whoa! What a 'fro! 'Medical' Bill

Here's a checklist:

1 Julius Erving
2 Dick Snyder
3 Paul Silas
4 Keith Erickson
5 Wes Unseld
6 Butch Beard
7 Lloyd Neal
8 Tom Henderson
9 Jim McMillian
10 Bob Lanier
11 Junior Bridgeman
12 Corky Calhoun
13 Billy Keller
14 Mickey Johnson
15 Fred Brown
16 Jamaal Wilkes
17 Louie Nelson
18 Ed Ratleff
19 Billy Paultz
20 Nate Archibald
21 Steve Mix
22 Ralph Simpson
23 Campy Russell
24 Charlie Scott
25 Artis Gilmore
26 Dick Van Arsdale
27 Phil Chenier
28 Spencer Haywood
29 Chris Ford
30 Dave Cowens
31 Sidney Wicks
32 Jim Price
33 Dwight Jones
34 Lucius Allen
35 Marvin Barnes
36 Henry Bibby
37 Joe Meriweather
38 Doug Collins
39 Garfield Heard
40 Randy Smith
41 Tom Burleson
42 Dave Twardzik
43 Bill Bradley
44 Calvin Murphy
45 Bob Love
46 Brian Winters
47 Glenn McDonald
48 Checklist
49 Bird Averitt
50 Rick Barry
51 Ticky Burden
52 Rich Jones
53 Austin Carr
54 Steve Kuberski
55 Paul Westphal
56 Mike Riordan
57 Bill Walton
58 Eric Money
59 John Drew
60 Pete Maravich
61 John Shumate
62 Mack Calvin
63 Bruce Seals
64 Walt Frazier
65 Elmore Smith
66 Rudy Tomjanovich
67 Sam Lacey
68 George Gervin
69 Gus Williams
70 George McGinnis
71 Len Elmore
72 Jack Marin
73 Brian Taylor
74 Jim Brewer
75 Alvan Adams
76 Dave Bing
77 Phil Jackson
78 Geoff Petrie
79 Mike Sojourner
80 James Silas
81 Bob Dandridge
82 Ernie DiGregorio
83 Cazzie Russell
84 Kevin Porter
85 Tom Boerwinkle
86 Darnell Hillman
87 Herm Gilliam
88 Nate Williams
89 Phil Smith
90 John Havlicek
91 Kevin Kunnert
92 Jimmy Walker
93 Billy Cunningham
94 Dan Issel
95 Ron Boone
96 Lou Hudson
97 Jim Chones
98 Earl Monroe
99 Tom Van Arsdale
100 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
101 Moses Malone
102 Ricky Sobers
103 Swen Nater
104 Leonard Robinson
105 Don Watts
106 Otto Moore
107 Maurice Lucas
108 Norm Van Lier
109 Clifford Ray
110 David Thompson
111 Fred Carter
112 Caldwell Jones
113 John Williamson
114 Bobby Smith
115 Jo Jo White
116 Curtis Perry
117 John Gianelli
118 Curtis Rowe
119 Lionel Hollins
120 Elvin Hayes
121 Ken Charles
122 Dave Meyers
123 Jerry Sloan
124 Billy Knight
125 Gail Goodrich
126 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
127 Julius Erving
128 George McGinnis
129 Nate Archibald
130 Pete Maravich
131 Dave Cowens
132 Rick Barry
133 Elvin Hayes
134 James Silas
135 Randy Smith
136 Leonard Gray
137 Charles Johnson
138 Ron Behagen
139 Mike Newlin
140 Bob McAdoo
141 Mike Gale
142 Scott Wedman
143 Lloyd Free
144 Bobby Jones


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Year: 1976

Manufacturer: Topps

# of Cards: 144

Value/Price: Check eBay (see links below)

Size: 3⅛ x 5

Image courtesy of Topps

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