2005-06 Topps Finest Basketball

What I pulled--

Short Prints, Parallels and Inserts:
Gray Refractor - Shawn Marion (#25/349), Baron Davis (#336/349)
Gray Xfractor - Lamar Odom (#156/229), Desmond Mason (#150/229)
Red Refractor - J.R. Smith (#111/169), Jenny McCarthy (#55/169)
Green Refractor - Shaquille O'Neal (#69/89)
Green Xfractor - LeBron James (#42/69)
Gray Rookie Refractor - Channing Frye (#17/19)
Finest Fact - Hakim Warrick (#69/1899), Michael Redd (#450/1899)
Finest Fact Refractor - Antawn Jamison (#130/199)
Draft Pick Redemptions - Pick #1 (Gray Xfractor), Pick #10 (Red Xfractor), Pick #20 (Blue)
Finest Moments Boxtopper - Dwyane Wade #14 (#381/399)

Relic Cards and Autographs:
Finest Fact Relic - Tracy McGrady blue jersey (#1868/2080), Sarunas Jasikevicius black jersey (#954/1629)
Finest Fact Autograph - Allen Iverson (#24/65)

Anyone who has read my reviews knows what a big fan I am of Finest. Year after year, sport after sport,
Finest is always one of the best products Topps produces.

2005-06 Finest Basketball is no different.

Regular buyers of Finest know what to expect. As has become the norm, it is packaged three mini-boxes
of six packs per box, along with an encased boxtopper. The base cards are chrome, so the stock is thick
and the cards are super-glossy. As with all chrome cards, they are prone to curl a little, but stored if stored
properly, that is not an issue. The photos are of the highest quality and the design, which usually is artsy
and modern, is basketball themed and attractive, if slightly big and even a little intrusive.

The key to Finest is the multiple levels of parallels. Varying colors of Refractor and Xfractor cards with
numbering that dwindles as the parallel gets rarer. The rookie cards are short-printed - in my box, I pulled
just one, although it was a parallel of Channing Frye #ed to just 19. These cards make player collectors
giddy with the thought of the chase and are a staple of the product, one that can stay as long as Finest is
being made, as far as I'm concerned.

The extra bells and whistles this year come in four pieces. The first, and smallest, is the Finest Fact insert
set, which featuresfacts about 25 players. There are parallels to this set, though, which is where they hits
are. Relic, autograph and autographed relic will put a smile on the buyer's face, especillay if that person is
lucky enough to pull an autograph like I did - Allen Iverson #ed to just 65 is a whopper of a pull for any
basketball fan. In addition to everything is the boxtopper, featuring either Iverson, Dwyane Wade or one of
Topps' celebrity endorsers (Jay-Z, Christie Brinkley, Shannon Elizabeth, Carmen Electra or Jenny McCarthy). The design on
this card is actually a bit more attractive than the base set and makes me wish it was used instead.

The last feature in Finest is the Draft Pick redemption inserts, with the pick number and color listed on the insert. Obviously,
this year's picks could not be included in the set, so this is a great way to give everyone a taste of what to look forward to, not to
mention a reason to check the mail every day.

Obviously, I'm a fan of Finest, regardless of the card's design. A "super premium" set like this should deliver bang for the buck
and leave the consumer with a smile on his face after breaking a box. This set will do just that..........