1992 Classic Draft Picks Shaquille O'Neal
The year was 1992 and the NBA was getting ready for the most promising rookie since Patrick Ewing. The larger than life Shaquille O'Neal was about to take the league by storm, and soon Shaq-mania would be in full effect. The hobby was waiting in anticipation as well. As collectors, we couldn't wait to get our hands on Shaq rookie cards, to own a piece of the "next big thing". Shaq and Classic though decided to throw a wrench in all those plans. Yep, Classic, who produced college sports cards and even WWF cards signed Shaquille O'Neal to an exclusive contract that prohibited companies from using Shaq in their products until the beginning of the next year, which meant companies had to wait till their series II products to include Shaq (of course via a loophole Upper Deck and Hoops both produced Draft Redemption cards that could be traded in for a Shaq trade card and a Lottery Redemption set respectively). So to get your Shaq fix, you had to rip open packs of Classic Draft Picks Basketball, and if you were lucky enough you were able to pull this gem, Shaq's first licensed basketball card. At one point when this was all there was of Shaq, this card was hot. I tried my luck at a few packs, but was really never a Classic guy, even though I wanted this card sooooooo bad. My cousin's parents bought him the complete set, and every time I would go over to his house I would see the card and was so jealous that he owned it. He wasn't even a real collector, but that's how Shaq affected the hobby, even casual non-collectors wanted this card just because it was his first card. Of course as soon as NBA licensed cards came out, this card was quickly forgotten, but I actually didn't get this card until a couple years ago when I was able to win it for around .99 with free shipping. It's still one of my favorite Shaq cards ever, because of what it represents..the beginning of an unbelievable storied career, one that met and exceeded the hype. This was and forever will be the card that started it all.