SPx is one of the staples of the Upper Deck basketball line, but even with its unorthodox, futuristic designs and autographed jersey rookie cards, the company decided to shake it up a bit for 2007-08. Now it's stocked with quite a few more autographs and memorabilia cards as it joins the increasing number of products with one hit per pack.
Boxes of 2007-08 SPx Basketball hold ten packs of three cards each, though many packs with a memorabilia card include it as a fourth card. On average, the autographed jersey rookies are found one per box.
The SPx brand always has a futuristic feel, so it succeeds in using designs that would raise eyebrows in other products. This year's base cards use an embossed black and gold 'X' shape behind the photos that also has a simulated basketball texture. The backgrounds are done up in team colors, making for a bright package.
Card backs have stats and a head shot of the featured player. Ninety NBA veterans make up the bulk of the base set, with Radiance parallels numbered to 25 and Spectrum parallels numbered to 10.
Autographed jersey rookie cards are laid out horizontally with an 'SPX' die cut that shows off the jersey through the 'X'. There are two tiers this year, with 10 top rookies (including Upper Deck autograph exclusives like Kevin Durant) numbered to 299 and 25 others numbered to 825.
There's also a third tier of nine rookies numbered to 299 that have the jerseys but no autographs, with players like Greg Oden and Brandan Wright who have autograph deals with another company. All rookies also have the same Radiance and Spectrum levels as the veterans, and the Spectrum cards are especially nice, showing off patch swatches through all three letters of the 'SPX' window.
A sample box of SPx Basketball opened for this review produced 28 of the 90 veterans plus a Josh McRoberts autographed jersey rookie numbered to 825.
SPx usually has some autographed inserts, but they're a lot more common in the new configuration. The largest set is Super Scripts, made up of 40 players ranging from rookies to Upper Deck spokesmen like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Also up for grabs are dual versions numbered between 10 and 25 and featuring combos like Michael Jordan/Julius Erving and Magic Johnson/John Stockton.
SPx Endorsements also utilizes a mix of rookies, veterans and legends and its 29-card checklist includes Durant, Yao Ming and Larry Bird.
The About.com review box produced a pair of autographs, both Super Scripts. The first was Hawks rookie Acie Law IV, and though the second was a headband-wearing Cavaliers guard, alas, it was Daniel Gibson and not LeBron.
A wide range of memorabilia cards is up for grabs anchored by long-time staple Winning Materials. This year they come in single, double and triple versions as well as autographed and patch parallels.
The cards use a variety of die cuts for the windows, but the swatches tend to be a bit on the small side. I pulled a Chris Webber single with a Jersey Numbers die cut and two triples that showcased the Denver Nuggets (Allen Iverson, Kenyon Martin and Nene) and the Chicago Bulls (Ben Wallace, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon).
Flashback Fabrics offer up a number of veteran jersey swatches, while Freshman Orientation cards present event-worn jersey swatches from 2007-08 rookies and also come in double and triple versions.
My sample box held two Freshman Orientation cards, one Flashback Fabrics card and a Freshman Trip triple jersey card.
The Last Word
In some previous seasons, opening boxes of SPx Basketball seemed a little like searching through 18 packs for one particular card: in this case the autographed jersey rookie. The new configuration definitely fixes that feeling, though the memorabilia content probably won't blow you away unless you find some of the rarer parallels. You'll also likely pay more for a full box than in years past.
Overall, though, changing things up for 2007-08 was a worthy experiment. The trademark touches of SPx are still there, and each individual pack got a lot more interesting.