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1981-82 Topps Basketball Cards

By Patrick Mondout

Topps went back to a more conventional look for its last set of the Awesome80s. The set was unconventional in other ways. Cards 1-66 were released nationwide, but cards 67-110 were different depending upon which region you lived in. There were East, West, and Midwest subsets, which are listed separately below. Prices for the now 13 card packs rose to 30.

The set features the first non-shared (see 1980-81) cards for Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as well as rookie cards for Kevin McHale, Joe Barry Carroll (aka Joe Barely Cares - a nickname he earned after more than a decade in the league with no accomplishments except for being traded for Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale), Jim Paxson, Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn. 

The set also provides "Super Action" and team leaders cards. The super action cards are a nice idea, but the set already features action photography and there is very little difference between the SA card of Bob Lanier pulling down a rebound and the standard card of Elvin Hayes doing the same. 

Overall the set has nice, clear photos taken mostly at Bullets and Nets home games (as had been the case since 1976). But what a missed opportunity with the Darrell Griffith rookie! You can imagine all kinds of shots that could have been used for Dr. Dunkenstein with his 48" vertical leap, but his card shows him calmly shooting a free throw.

Stylistically, it is a vast improvement over the previous disaster of a set, but it is worth far less because of the Magic and Bird rookies in the previous set. The one complaint is the inclusion of the name "Topps" on the fronts. With Topps having lost its unfair monopoly on current baseball player cards in 1981, they started promoting their name more and this was one unfortunate side effect of that otherwise pleasant moment in time.

The exit of Topps from the basketball card market was not that surprising. While kids like me continued to buy them each year, they were largely ignored by collectors and did not appreciate in value in the way that baseball (and only baseball) cards did at the time. The Star Company would fill the void to some extent, but it wasn't until Fleer entered the market in 1986 that a proper set of basketball cards was once again available to collectors.

1981-82 Topps at a Glance
Back Checklist Wax Pack
Kevin McHale Team Leaders Magic!
Artis Super Action! Mahorn Rookie

Here's a checklist:

1 John Drew
2 Dan Roundfield
3 Nate Archibald
4 Larry Bird
5 Cedric Maxwell
6 Robert Parish
7 Artis Gilmore
8 Ricky Sobers
9 Mike Mitchell
10 Tom LaGarde
11 Dan Issel
12 David Thompson
13 Lloyd Free
14 Moses Malone
15 Calvin Murphy
16 Johnny Davis
17 Otis Birdsong
18 Phil Ford
19 Scott Wedman
20 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
21 Magic Johnson
22 Norm Nixon
23 Jamaal Wilkes
24 Marques Johnson
25 Bob Lanier
26 Bill Cartwright
27 Michael Ray Richardson
28 Ray Williams
29 Darryl Dawkins
30 Julius Erving
31 Lionel Hollins
32 Bobby Jones
33 Walter Davis
34 Dennis Johnson
35 Leonard Robinson
36 Mychal Thompson
37 George Gervin
38 Swen Nater
39 Jack Sikma
40 Adrian Dantley
41 Darrell Griffith
42 Elvin Hayes
43 Fred Brown
44 Hawks Leaders
45 Celtics Leaders
46 Bulls Leaders
47 Cavaliers Leaders
48 Mavericks Leaders
49 Nuggets Leaders
50 Pistons Leaders
51 Warriors Leaders
52 Rockets Leaders
53 Pacers Leaders
54 Kings Leaders
55 Lakers Leaders
56 Bucks Leaders
57 Nets Leaders
58 Knicks Leaders
59 76ers Leaders
60 Suns Leaders
61 Blazers Leaders
62 Spurs Leaders
63 Clippers Leaders
64 Sonics Leaders
65 Jazz Leaders
66 Bullets Leaders
W67 T.R. Dunn
W68 Alex English
W69 Billy McKinney
W70 Dave Robisch
W71 Joe Barry Carroll
W72 Bernard King
W73 Sonny Parker
W74 Purvis Short
W75 Larry Smith
W76 Jim Chones
W77 Michael Cooper
W78 Mark Landsberger
W79 Alvan Adams
W80 Jeff Cook
W81 Rich Kelley
W82 Kyle Macy
W83 Billy Ray Bates
W84 Bob Gross
W85 Calvin Natt
W86 Lonnie Shelton
W87 Jim Paxson
W88 Kelvin Ransey
W89 Kermit Washington
W90 Henry Bibby
W91 Michael Brooks
W92 Joe Bryant
W93 Phil Smith
W94 Brian Taylor
W95 Freeman Williams
W96 James Bailey
W97 Checklist 1-110
W98 John Johnson
W99 Vinnie Johnson
W100 Wally Walker
W101 Paul Westphal
W102 Allan Bristow
W103 Wayne Cooper
W104 Carl Nicks
W105 Ben Poquette
W106 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Super Action)
W107 Dan Issel (Super Action)
W108 Dennis Johnson (Super Action)
W109 Magic Johnson (Super Action)
W110 Jack Sikma (Super Action)
M67 David Greenwood
M68 Dwight Jones
M69 Reggie Theus
M70 Bobby Wilkerson
M71 Mike Bratz
M72 Kenny Carr
M73 Geoff Huston
M74 Bill Laimbeer
M75 Roger Phegley
M76 Checklist 1-110
M77 Abdul Jeelani
M78 Bill Robinzine
M79 Jim Spanarkel
M80 Kent Benson
M81 Keith Herron
M82 Phil Hubbard
M83 John Long
M84 Terry Tyler
M85 Mike Dunleavy
M86 Tom Henderson
M87 Billy Paultz
M88 Robert Reid
M89 Mike Bantom
M90 James Edwards
M91 Billy Knight
M92 George McGinnis
M93 Louis Orr
M94 Ernie Grunfeld
M95 Reggie King
M96 Sam Lacey
M97 Junior Bridgeman
M98 Mickey Johnson
M99 Sidney Moncrief
M100 Brian Winters
M101 Dave Corzine
M102 Paul Griffin
M103 Johnny Moore
M104 Mark Olberding
M105 James Silas
M106 George Gervin (Super Action)
M107 Artis Gilmore (Super Action)
M108 Marques Johnson (Super Action)
M109 Bob Lanier (Super Action)
M110 Moses Malone (Super Action)
E67 Charlie Criss
E68 Eddie Johnson
E69 Wes Matthews
E70 Tom McMillen
E71 Tree Rollins
E72 M.L. Carr
E73 Chris Ford
E74 Gerald Henderson
E75 Kevin McHale
E76 Rick Robey
E77 Darwin Cook
E78 Mike Gminski
E79 Maurice Lucas
E80 Mike Newlin
E81 Mike O'Koren
E82 Steve Hawes
E83 Foots Walker
E84 Campy Russell
E85 Dewayne Scales
E86 Randy Smith
E87 Marvin Webster
E88 Sly Williams
E89 Mike Woodson
E90 Maurice Cheeks
E91 Caldwell Jones
E92 Steve Mix
E93 Checklist 1-110
E94 Greg Ballard
E95 Don Collins
E96 Kevin Grevey
E97 Mitch Kupchak
E98 Rick Mahorn
E99 Kevin Porter
E100 Nate Archibald (Super Action)
E101 Larry Bird (Super Action)
E102 Bill Cartwright (Super Action)
E103 Darryl Dawkins (Super Action)
E104 Julius Erving (Super Action)
E105 Kevin Porter (Super Action)
E106 Bobby Jones (Super Action)
E107 Cedric Maxwell (Super Action)
E108 Robert Parish (Super Action)
E109 Michael Ray.Richardson (Super Action)
E110 Dan Roundfield (Super Action)


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Year: 1981

Manufacturer: Topps

# of Cards: 198

Value/Price: Check eBay (see links below)

Size: 2 x 3

Image courtesy of Topps

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