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Tales from the Road: The Endless Pursuit of 2011 Preferred Basketball Autographs

February 1, 2012

Panini America NBA acquisitions specialist Ivory Tabb has been a busy lady as of late, trotting the globe from one NBA city to the next, doggedly pursuing — and securing — on-card autographs from the best players in the league for the upcoming 2011 Preferred Basketball release.

Her results over the last two weeks have been nothing short of remarkable, highlighted by sit-down signings with the likes of Derrick Rose, John Wall, Kevin Durant (with an assist from Panini Authentic’s Brian Bayne), Kevin Love, Brandon Jennings and many more. Luckily for all of us, Tabb has taken notes — and pictures — during her journey.

To be sure, Tabb is committed to the cause and is not one to take “no” for an answer, which means redemptions will be down and more road-trip tales will be forthcoming. But for now, enjoy the following anecdotes and images from the mind — and iPhone camera — of Tabb.

Grant Hill
“Grant Hill was great. I asked him how many more years he had left to play he said two physically but didn’t know  mentally how long. He had knee surgery in July and said that helped a great deal. He said he didn’t start running until November so there was no wear and tear on it and the rest helped out a great deal. He said this particular trip to Dallas was great because the Suns got here on a Saturday afternoon and had a full day of rest before they played the Mavericks. He said the restaurants were great, particularly Truluck’s and Nobu. His pregame meal is usually something healthy off of  the room-service menu and he couldn’t imagine at his age [ he will be 40 this year] eating wings and fries before a game. He said he would pass out.”

Brandon Jennings
“I had my first speeding ticket that day trying to get to this signing. Brandon said he has had a few but not in Dallas. He hit the nail straight on the head when guessing how much my fine would be based on how fast I was going. His pregame meal is hot wings and fries, which Stephen Jackson says is a bad combo but that all the young guys do it.”

Stephen Jackson
“Stephen Jackson was great. He was very excited about the cards and asked to keep a few. He said the design team did a great job and it was unlike anything he had ever seen. He has a mixed tape out called ‘What’s a Lockout’ and he received 7 million views on World Star Hip Hop in two days. Stephen also said that not only was Derrick Rose the best point guard in the league, but that he might be the best player as well. As for Jennings’ pregame meal, Stephen says all the young guys have strong guts now and they eat bad. But he said just wait until they get older. They won’t do it any more.”

DeMarcus Cousins
“DeMarcus was great. He was on-time, he signed everything quickly and he even brought me lunch afterward from Morton’s. He opted to go with the steak even though he really wished he could have lemon pepper wings and crab legs. He said he’s trying to watch what he eats but wings are the meal of champs.”

Luol Deng
“I met with Luol Deng  in Cleveland before a game against the Cavs. There was snow on the ground so the team bus broke down and got stuck in the snow. The team’s staff was on the other bus and were forced to switch with the players. Luol said he tried to tell them to let the staff get on the player bus but apparently no one heard him. He said he felt bad for the woman on the other bus, which lead to me asking about woman referees. He said that they weren’t bad at all and he hardly notices them. But when they do make a bad call he doesn’t talk to them they way he would talk to male refs. His pregame meal is whatever the team serves.”

Derrick Rose
“Derrick was surprised I traveled all the way to Cleveland to see him. Rip Hamilton, who is a good friend of mine, actually brought him over. He thought the Silhouettes prime cards were great. He tried to keep one but I told him there was a limited number of those and that I would send him something else. He was very excited about finally feeling ‘OK’ since he hadn’t played in two games due to his injury. I told him I would be mad I’d he didn’t play, since I came all the way from warm Dallas to see him. He said he was going to have a great game just for me if he got in. He said his pregame meal is sleep.”

Luke Harangody
“Luke was very excited about his cards. He really liked the Crown Royale cards. He asked if it was a new design because he didn’t remember cards looking like that when he collected. He said during the lockout he was back at home cleaning out his mom’s garage and found his old cards. He said he has an autographed Derek Jeter Rookie Card that’s got to be worth something. He said he would text me a picture of it so I could tell him how much it’s worth. He used to be a heavy collector growing up. His pregame meal is pasta and he said he can’t mess with the wings and that he sees plenty of guys who eat junk right before game time.”

23 Comments leave one →
  1. hudsonfan15 permalink
    February 1, 2012 9:59 am

    Great gallery and write-up, I love that some players will sign in the backseat of a car!

  2. Matt Gilman permalink
    February 1, 2012 10:09 am

    Wow! awesome write up and a great gallery of top notch stars and their autographs!

  3. Kelvin permalink
    February 1, 2012 10:10 am

    Really happy to see on card auto!

  4. Scott W. Prusha permalink*
    February 1, 2012 10:19 am

    Great job guys, doing all we can to get ON-CARD!

    • February 1, 2012 2:30 pm

      And doing it well too, by the sounds of it Ivory gets the job done and nobody messes her schedule.

      • February 1, 2012 10:24 pm

        She’s the American version of Rhys Evans!

      • February 2, 2012 4:33 am

        Hah Tracy, I’ll happily hunt down some Aussies over here and get their signatures if you pay me to :p. There are a few retired Aussies over here that we would love to see in sets, Luc Longley ring any bells?

  5. February 1, 2012 10:54 am

    Thank you, Ivory! I will personally drive you across the country–nay, the world–if it results in fewer redemptions for my customers.

  6. Daniel permalink
    February 1, 2012 11:09 am

    Did Patrick Patterson sign the past due cards from Certified also?????

  7. February 1, 2012 11:23 am

    Very nice, I like the rare shot or Derrick Rose smiling

  8. February 1, 2012 11:52 am

    Can we get a complete checklist please?? Shoukdnt be too hard to acquire since you guys obviously know who is in the product since a lot of the cards are being signed right now. Also this stuff is coming out in a little over a month and noone knows who is in this stuff except for the few examples of cards you guys have shown

  9. jaymes hori permalink
    February 1, 2012 12:27 pm

    I hear that this product got pushed back till early March and that Hoops will be taking its place at the end of Febuary? Is that True?

  10. Nick Gauder permalink
    February 1, 2012 6:49 pm

    Great job Panini!!!! I would do anything just to pull one of those Durant Sillohutte autos! I cant wait to bust some boxes when it comes out. Keep up the great work as always Panini!

  11. February 2, 2012 1:03 am

    Loved this behind the scenes look at the players signing…..again great work! cant wait to get my hands on some of these cards!


  12. Giovanni Antonini permalink
    February 3, 2012 11:26 am

    That would be the coolest job in the WORLD!!! great article

  13. February 5, 2012 3:53 pm

    I love Patterson signing in the car – great insight on where you have to go to get this done. Jordan Crawford had 2 bags of ice on his knees. Great stuff.

  14. deloreanfan81 permalink
    February 6, 2012 11:06 pm

    awesome group of signers


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