Some readers may know I collect checklists; you can see my bucket list here. I’ve also always felt that 1970s basketball was one of the most underappreciated post-war eras across the four major sports in our beloved hobby. So I thought I would combine these two passions and rank all 19 checklists Topps produced for its basketball sets in the 1970s.
This list isn’t about which checklists are the toughest to find in high grade since I’ve already written about 5 Super Tough Basketball Checklists on the blog. My rankings are a little more nuanced but most significantly influenced by the design on the front of the card. I consider Topps’ intentions regarding variations and PSA’s population report to help me break some ties, though.
So here they are, in descending order, my ranking of the 19 1970s Topps basketball checklists.
19: 1973 Topps #121 Checklist 1-176
The 1973 Topps NBA checklist is incredibly simple; it’s the most ordinary 1970s basketball checklist and therefore deserves its place at the bottom of the list.
18: 1974 Topps #141 NBA Checklist 1-176
The 1974 Topps NBA checklist ranks higher than the 1973 version because the blue ink pops a bit more and the black NBA capital letters within the yellow frame is a little more interesting. There are also only 21 high grade (PSA 9/10) copies of this card compared to 49 for the 1973 Topps NBA checklist.
17: 1975 Topps #181 Checklist 111-220
16: 1975 Topps #61 Checklist 1-110
Keeping with the blue theme towards the bottom of the list, the 1975 Topps checklist for cards 111-220 is a little more common in higher grades than the 1975 Topps checklist for cards 1-110. But the top of the front’s design is a little more intricate than the cards ranked 18th and 19th on the list.
15: 1973 Topps #242 ABA Checklist
I like the pink backgrounds a little better than the blue background checklists, it just feels more 1970s, but the framing of the checklist leads a little to be desired. By the way, there are no PSA 10 copies of this card, so if one ever pops, look out above ($$$).
14: 1975 Topps #257 Checklist 221-330 (ABA)
I ranked the blue background 1975 checklist as superior to the blue background 1973 checklist, so I’m just trying to stay consistent with the pink ones, too.
13: 1972 Topps #160 NBA Checklist 1-176
I’m not really sure why PSA calls out the error on the 1972 Topps checklist; there’s no other variation. Anyway, this is another card with no PSA 10 copies, and scarcity aside, the black over yellow design is more appealing, plus I like that they italicized the word Checklist at the top.
12: 1971 Topps #145 Checklist 145-233
11: 1971 Topps #144 NBA Checklist 1-144 Copyright Extends to #110
10: 1971 Topps #144 NBA Checklist 1-144 Copyright Extends to #108
the 1971 Topps basketball checklists find themselves in the middle of my rankings. I like the curved design of the world Basketball towards the top, and the double framing stands out a little more than all the previous single-bordered cards. In terms of ordering the three 1971 checklists; I think the first checklist is more significant for this set (starting with players instead of leaders cards), and the Copyright Extends to #108 is a little rarer than the Copyright Extends to #110 copy,
9: 1978 Topps #67 Checklist 1-132
The 1978 Topps checklist in the top 10 might be one of the more controversial picks on the list, but I used to have a few high-grade 1978 Topps basketball sets, so it’s significant to my personal hobby history.
8: 1974 Topps #203 ABA Checklist
While the 1974 Topps NBA checklist found itself toward the bottom of my list, I think Topps did a much better job with the ABA version. The yellow over pink really stands out, and encircling the words ABA in the header is a nice look. This is also a notoriously tough card to find in good condition. There are zero PSA 10s and just two PSA 9s in PSA’s population report.
7: 1976 Topps #48 Checklist 1-144
I’m just a sucker for tall boy cards.
6: 1977 Topps #29 Checklist 1-132
I really like the 1977 Topps checklist, even though it’s one of the most prevalent high-grade cards on this list. Topps remembered, in 1977, that the hardwood and basketball are brown and made a checklist that fits the color pattern of the game; I like the angled footer design too.
5: 1972 Topps #248 ABA Checklist 177-264
Topps nailed the ABA theme with the header on this card; I dig it! This is another oddity in the hobby where PSA calls out the Error on an uncorrected card.
4: 1970 Topps #101 Checklist 111-175 1970-71 in White
Another great tall boy card! But, in ranking the In White copy of the 1970 Topps Checklist-2 (despite being scarcer) with the In Black version, I think the In Black was how Topps intended to release the card, and the black lettering looks better than the white as well.
3: 1979 Topps #101 Checklist
The 1979 Topps basketball checklist screams the era to me. Topps including an actual basketball in the oddly shaped footer is fantastic, along with the basketball-appropriate color choices.
2: 1970 Topps #24 Checklist 1-110
The Checklist-1 card is a classic with only one PSA 10 copy to go with 23 PSA 9s in PSA’s population report. The separation between the header and actual checklist takes advantage of available space, and including a basketball hoop is a nice touch too.
1: 1970 Topps #101 Checklist 111-175 1970-71 in Black
It’s a tall boy; it’s got an action drawing at the top and highlights five all-stars for collectors. Ultimately, it’s just a little more interesting than the 1970 Topps Checklist-1. I really love this card.
Do you agree with my order? Which are your favorites? Let me know down in the comments or over on Twitter. And don’t forget to follow my @ChecklistGuy accounts on Twitter and Instagram for content dedicated exclusively to checklists. Happy Collecting!