Mr. Throwback Thursday: When Vintage Gold Is Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Mr. Throwback started selling vintage gear in January, 2012. He loved it so much that he wanted to do it full time. Within a year, he had opened his own store in the East Village (at 9th and 1st), and has been there ever since.

This column is where Mr. Throwback goes through his extensive collection and revisits an iconic moment in pop culture, reflected through the clothes, shoes, or accessories from the time. This week he talks about one of his most epic collecting experiences as a kid. Share with him your greatest basketball card memories and follow him on Instagram, @mrthrowbacknyc/@mr.tnyc.

You know what's so awesome when you're a little kid? Collecting basketball cards. Remember the Beckett Price Guide? Holy cow, buying a magazine with all the prices for your cards—life-changing.

I'm from Long Island, and back in the early '90s if you lived in Nassau County you went to Busy Bee Flea Market, in Massapequa. My mom used to schlep (Yiddish word for we are frigging going) to Busy Bee, and she would get her white shoes dyed black for countless bar and bat mitzvahs. I would wander around, buying Jordan almonds and basketball cards.

This one time (not in band camp), I bought a pack of I think it was Fleer 1995 NBA Hoops cards. I opened it up to find of course crappy players, but this one epic Grant Hill card. I got home and went right up to my bedroom to my Beckett to check the price, and guess what? Before I got to the price there was a page, a written article about this card I just found. I was so freaking excited. I made my mom drive right back to the flea market so we could show the man at the booth the card and the magazine. He said, "Little Mikey, your card is worth $50." I'm like, "Dang, I'm RICH!"

I planned on keeping that card forever. I'm thinking: Grant Hill, he's gonna be a ten-time all star, he's gonna win ten NBA championships, he's gonna go to the Hall of Fame, he's gonna be the greatest player who ever lived... I got the golden ticket!!!

So of course you had that binder with the card slots, and I put that card away for 20 years, thinking it would go up in value.

Three years ago, right before I opened my store, I go home to my parents house and I find my old binder. I'm looking inside, reminiscing about my b-ball card journey and there it is... the $50 Grant Hill Card from '96.

The greatest day of my life as a kid (not including my bar mitzvah, and no, I didn't pick sports as a theme; I picked Mike's Marine World, 'cause I loved snorkeling, after this one vacation in Barbados.) And guess how much it's worth now?

Ninety-nine cents.

Screw that guy!

What sucks about '80s and '90s-era basketball cards is they were mass-produced and unfortunately they aren't worth anything unless they are signed cards or jersey cards. The only card I have that is really cool is a Jordan Rookie 23k gold card. But it isn't worth much. The cards that have value are pre-'60s, which I don't have. Nor have any walked in my door.

We actually use old baseball/basketball cards as our price tags. Every garment in our store has a throwback card on it. It keeps everything legit.

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