Out of the Box: Panini America’s Sneak Peek Insert Gives Game-Worn Kicks a New Home
If the shoe fits, you don’t always wear it. Sometimes when the shoe fits — even barely — you make history with it. And when the shoes that barely fit also happen to have been worn by iconic NBA superstars in a game, well, you create something the likes of which card collectors have never seen — and you shout it from the mountaintops. That’s the genesis of Panini America’s Sneak Peek insert that will debut in next Wednesday’s release of 2013-14 Immaculate Basketball.
It’s a quite extraordinary accomplishment, this Sneak Peek insert; and one for which there were no footsteps to follow. So Panini America officials from multiple departments walked the most extensive game-worn sneaker insert in hobby history from idea to reality. The results, as you’ll see in the gallery below, speak for themselves and that’s good — because you’ll likely be left speechless.
“The idea to create the Sneak Peek memorabilia cards came while we were looking at a pair of Kobe Bryant game-worn sneakers in the Panini Authentic memorabilia room,” said Jim Stefano, Panini America’s Senior Director of Product Development. “NBA players, more so than any other athletes, wear sneakers that reflect their personalities. Their sneakers are an extension of who they are. It’s all about the swag.”
That swag, of course, takes various forms. Shaquille O’Neal’s Reebok Pumps. Blake Griffin’s Jordans. Kobe’s Kobes. Larry Johnson’s Converse Reacts. LeBron’s Nike Lebron Xs. It was one thing to create a wishlist of game-worn sneakers to target for Sneak Peek; it was another thing altogether more complex to actually acquire them and then figure out how best to incorporate them into a trading card.
But Panini America acquisitions officials worked their relationships with exclusive and non-exclusives athletes alike to turn a wishlist into a checklist; from there, the game-worn sneakers made their way through Panini America HQ, with each department — Product Development, Production, Design — helping shape the masterful finished product.
“This was truly a great experience to develop and execute with the various departments within Panini America,” Stefano said. “It was a true team effort that resulted in one of the most singularly spectacular sets of trading cards ever created. The sheer amount of different swatch colors, materials and patterns is a unique and exciting development for the entire trading card category. We believe these cards will not only be sought after by basketball collectors but by sneaker heads as well.”
In the gallery that follows, we showcase most of the bona fide history-makers that comprise the 2013-14 Immaculate Basketball Sneak Peek insert. You can check out some additional images from the set by checking out our friends at Kicks On Fire and Beckett. Enjoy the images and stay tuned to The Knight’s Lance for continued coverage.