One of the autograph parallels I’ve been eyeing lately has been from a very recent set: 2019-2020 Panini Noir. I love the look of these cards and I really appreciate how they’ve been able to include a number of retired players that I grew up watching throughout my childhood (and from before my time) in this set. I’d love to have the cash to buy a box and try to get a sick hit from one of the seven autographs, but I’m very much priced out, since these boxes go for $1,500 and up. To borrow the words of Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, “Help me, I’m poor”.
But, thanks to the magic of the internet and all the good people selling on eBay, I might be able to grab one of the autograph Noir parallel cards that I’m absolutely loving right now, and the parallel I’m referring to is the Panini Noir Showtime Signatures. I’ve never seen anything quite like this parallel. Instead of using photos of players in their uniforms, this autograph parallel features only shots of players showing up to games in their pre-gametime attire. This is pretty cool because you get to see each player’s sense of style. It’s a really nice look at players off the court, and I couldn’t be happier with how these cards turned out.
This set is very new, so I’m not going to even try and grab any PSA data, but I will take a look at a few players that I like featured in this parallel, and maybe thrown in a comment or two about their style, which should be interesting coming from a style-blind white guy like myself. Plus, as always, I’ll have a few comments about what these cards are selling for on eBay. So lets take a look.
The highest price card right now on eBay belongs to Ja Morant, and it’s a super short print with only 5 copies. To me, the whole set up of this card is fantastic. I love the refractor-like text, I’m a huge fan of the art deco style font they used for the “Noir” text, and I love how the autograph is front and center on the card itself with no noise going on around it, which is as it should be. I also really like how you can see a faint team logo in the black section of the card, its subtle but I really like the subtlety of it. I have to give this card a 10/10 for its design elements, great job Panini!
Shifting the focus more to Morant, the first thing you see is he is decked out in all Nike gear and has that “athleisure” look going for him. Panini does a much better job describing his look on the back of the card as “cozy couture”, but the Grizzlies star pulls it off well. Morant also has an angular and sharp looking autograph and the blue ink really pops on a predominantly black and white card. This card is the most expensive of the Showtime Signatures right now and it has a Buy It Now asking price of $2,250. I do like it, but I’m priced out, so lets move on.
Kevin Durant is another prime time player featured in this set and he’s sporting an interesting look. He’s got the classic red flannel thrown over a black tee-shirt. On the back of the card, Panini attributes Durant’s love of flannel shirts to his time spent in Oakland and draws a connection to how California rappers, like Easy-E, were fans of sporting flannels. But as as a guy who saw all of the 90s, albeit from the East Coast, I felt like flannels were a thing everywhere, not just in the West Coast rap scene. But who cares, I won’t begrudge Panini if they give credit for the flannel to the West Coast.
The rest of Durant’s clothing choices are not super noteworthy. It looks like he’s sporting some all black sweatpants and some shoes that look strangely similar to some Asic running shoes that I used to have about 10 or 15 years ago. My guess is that Durant just threw this stuff on and wasn’t going for a curated look, but who knows. He certainly looks the least stylish of all the players I’m covering in this post.
Durant’s signature isn’t legible and looks a bit like some big interlocking loops, but to each their own. I wouldn’t go so far to call his autograph bubbly, but it’s far loopier than Morant’s angular auto. I’m sure these guys get sick of signing cards all the time, so as long as he’s willing to sign the card, I’ll take it. I prefer legible autographs, or even just legible initials, but I can still appreciate Durant’s loops.
The card pictured above (2/49) was selling on eBay on August 2, 2020 and sold for $153. With only 49 copies of this card, I feel like it could have gone for a little higher than that, but it’s very tough to say with so little history out there for this card. If you like Durant and want to see him in an off-court look, this would make an awesome card to add to your collection.
Next up is one of my favorites growing up, and that would be Paul Pierce, who is suited up and all business in his pre-game attire, and I love it. My one issue with Pierce donning the all black pinstripe suit is that it looks a bit big, it sorta has that “I rented this for prom” look to it. I know the oversized suit look was big in the late 90s when Pierce first entered the league, but fashion has changed and I know Pierce knows how to rock a suit so this shot may have caught him on an off day. I will say the designer gym bag looks great and I’m loving how the brown leather of the bag looks against the black pinstripes.
Pierce has a very clean signature on the card and the capital Ps look nice. He also did a nice job signing on the card above and staying within the lines. As a Celtics fan, I’m also glad they credited Pierce to the Celtics for this card and not the Clippers, where he finished his career. He did play 15 of his 19 season as a Celtic after all. The card featured above is the only one at the moment selling on eBay and has a Buy It Now price of $155. As much as I love Pierce, I feel that price is a bit steep and don’t think I’d go north of $120 for it. But hey, if you have the money, then by all means.
The last showtime signature I’ll highlight is the one belonging to Walt Frazier. The two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer for the New York Knicks looks like he just got back from some designer ranch, but he’s also known around the NBA for being a flashy dresser. He’s got the head to toe cowhide suite going and I’m happy to see he paired the suit perfectly with some (crocodile?) cowboy boots, a head turning look for a guy with the nickname “Mr. Cool”.
The back of this card has a hilarious quote by Frazier. Apparently when he goes shopping, he asks to see the clothes he thinks “no one would wear”. Well, whoever helped him pick out that suit really understood what Frazier was looking for. I’m sure Craig Sager would have appreciated the look.
Walt Frazier’s signature is the cleanest of all, and I am a huge fan of the way he writes his capital F. That old school F is a lost are but it’s the coolest way to style the cursive capital letter F. I’m not a handwriting analyst by any means (although I did practice writing my signature all the time as a kid), but you can’t show me a better looking capital F than Frazier’s. Nice penmanship Mr. Cool.
Like the Morant card, the Frazier card above is short printed to five copies, but the Frazier card is far less expensive. Right now, the card is listed at auction with a starting big of $90 with 1 day and 16 hours left before the auction closes. I don’t think there’s a huge demand now for Walt Frazier autograph memorabilia, but with the Covid card craze going on, anything is possible. There’s also another Frazier card short printed to 99 that is selling at a Buy It Now price of $30.
All in all, I’m a huge fan of how these cards turned out and it’s great to have a card capturing player’s style before they step out onto the court. It will be interesting to see if these cards are a hit with collectors or not, but given the limited nature and the great design, I feel their value should hold up well against similarly rare autograph cards. I hope Panini keeps going with this set and looks to include other nice art deco design elements moving forward. Since art deco incorporated a lot of cityscapes, I think a throwback to the 1993-94 Skylights parallel from Upper Deck would look incredible as a Panini Noir parallel. Get at it Panini! And if you do, send me a few cards to review. But don’t expect them back.