The first time I opened a pack of 1990 Skybox Basketball cards as a youth, I was in awe at the design. The feeling was comparable to the time I first played Tecmo Super Bowl on NES or NHL ’94 on Sega Genesis. There is a moment of enlightenment when you know videogames (or in this case, the sports cards) would be forever changed. Little did I know at the time that this change would be for the worse.
Those videogames raised the bar on sports games and caused the explosion of realistic stat-tracking sports games. In contrast, the introduction and success of Skybox and other competing brands oversaturated the card market. After a few short years of fierce competition, the sports card bubble had burst devaluing everyone’s collection. Despite the negative vibes, this Skybox set still looks beautiful. Take this Kurt Rambis card. The gold frame, the isolated player photo against the bright colored backdrop, and the motion line effects on the ball all contributed to grabbing a card collector’s attention, and the design still holds up aesthetically today.
Players like Kurt Rambis are few and far between in today’s diva filled NBA. Kurt Rambis is a throwback to another time, and a man who refused to change with the times. In the ‘90s, the NBA image began to shift. Physical play was being regulated out of the league, creating less room for role-playing warriors like Kurt. You think Kurt was going to change his style of play? Hell no. Players started wearing shorts that actually fit. My man Kurt stuck with his NBA issued daisy dukes. Rec-specs and contact lenses? No thanks. Kurt continued to hit the court in his horn-rimmed glasses and croakies.
After being cut multiple times, Rambis carved out a significant role with the Lakers. As fan favorite known for his relentless hustle, Kurt contributed to four NBA championships. Following those championships, he played for the Hornets, Suns, Kings, and final stint with the Lakers to close out a 14-year career that thrived on effort alone. Rambis went on to have some success as an NBA coach, and currently holds and assistant coach position with the Lakers. It is always strange when a player you remember as being so quirky retires, then goes on to lead such a normal coaching or sportscasting career. I’ll choose to remember Kurt as the player on this card and the player that will not let this Kevin McHale clothesline keep him down, back when this type of play was just a normal two-shot foul.
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