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How Overtime Elite Brought Topps Chrome Basketball Back

Boardroom sat down with Overtime Editor-in-Chief Sam Gordon to talk about OTE’s partnership with Topps and what the future holds.

Topps Chrome is set to release its first basketball set since the 2008-09 NBA season, and it will feature the electric athletes of Overtime Elite. We were lucky enough to receive a hobby box of the celebratory set before the official release date April 15, 2022.

The cards themselves are phenomenal. They remind collectors of the days of collecting Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry rookies from the Topps Chrome sets of the aughts. The most attractive features of this set include on-card autographs, appealing special insert sets, and the simple fact that all cards are technically rookies. There’s no surprise that there is a lot of hype around the return of Topps Chrome basketball cards. 

We recently caught up with Sam Gordon, Editor-in-Chief of Overtime, to discuss the Topps Chrome set and what we should expect in the future from Topps and Overtime.

Brett Pickert: How does Overtime Elite differ from other basketball leagues?

Sam Gordon: What we’ve noticed is that the typical path doesn’t work for everyone. We thought it was time for an alternative path, and we thought we were the entity to do it. We built an insane facility in Atlanta. State of the art weight rooms. Top-notch education program where all the athletes get personalized education. We want to make sure they finish up their high school degree. These players are coming to OTE, getting a top notch education and amazing resources off the court while using the best facilities to prepare for the next level,

BP: How are the payers paid?

SG: The minimum salary is $100k. They also get equity in the league and a cut in licensing deals.

BP: Tell me about the Topps Chrome OTE set.

SG: As soon as we announced the league — I’m a sports card guy — we foresaw there was an opportunity to do something in the collectible space. Last year, we created card-related social accounts. We spoke with all types of sports card producers, big and small, and got some ideas. We wanted to see who understood the vision we had. Ultimately, Topps just got it. They saw the potential of what we were doing and were down. 

BP: How cool is it to be the first Topps Chrome basketball set in over a decade?

SG: I’m a collector. I started in baseball cards but I’m a basketball player. Topps Chrome is the pinnacle of basketball cards. You have the Kobe rookie and the 03 LeBron James Topps Chrome rookie. Topps choosing OTE as the first Topps Chrome Basketball set in over a decade shows a lot of faith in us. They believe in the vision of the league.

BP: How do the players feel about having their own trading card?

SG: I went to the signing session with the players. I was talking with them as they were signing their superfractor 1/1 autograph card. I was telling them that this is their best card, and how cool and special it was. Jai Smith is collecting these cards now and is excited. At the beginning we didn’t have too many collectors but now all the players are into it. 

BP: Who’s the big chase collectors are going for?

SG: The easiest answer is Jean Montero. He’s a projected NBA draft pick. His exact spot is either in the lottery or first round. A lot of collectors are excited about Dominick Barlow. He’s 6’10 and in the gym all day. Worked himself onto draft boards after starting unranked at OTE. He’s now a projected NBA draft pick this year.

There’s also the Thompson twins. They’re identical twins; they’re both projected top-10 draft picks in 2023. Their base Topps Chrome autos recently sold for $130.

There’s a lot of guys with high potential and we’re excited to see them play at the next level. This set is all rookie cards and many players have NBA scouts interested in them.

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BP: Will there be other Overtime sets coming from Topps?

SG: We still do a Topps Now program. Every week after games we were sending the best moments. We’re actually working with Topps next year on OTE-designed inserts. That’s amazing and it shows how Topps is down to get creative with us. It’s cool that our graphics team gets to work on cards. Also, in a couple months, we’re releasing our first premium collection, Topps Inception. We’re going to have sneakers, jerseys, basketball and other relics.

BP: What’s one thing you want collectors to know about the Topps OTE sets?

SG: That these sets should not be looked at as high school or college basketball sets. These are high school age players playing professionally on their way to the NBA. The best way to compare it is to Bowman Draft Prospects in baseball. The same concept but applied to basketball players.

All cards in the Topps Chrome OTE set have rookie shields. Every card is a rookie card. Also, the autographs are all on-card.