Today's Old School Design takes a look at some great NBA basketball card designs from the very early 1970's. What makes these cards particularly interesting is the way Topps treated the uniforms. In those days, Topps did not always have permission from the major sports leagues to use their official logos. Many times their card sets were only approved by the Player's Association, so the team logos could not appear on their cards.
In these classic NBA designs, the players that are featured have apparently been asked to turn their jerseys around backwards for the photos. This gives the players on the card a very unusual look. We are not supposed to notice that the jersey is backwards and that the neck is way too high. Don Kojis' jersey almost fits him like a turtleneck!
Many cards from these years used photos of the players with their arms covering the logos in the photo. Others just used tight close-ups to avoid showing the team logo on the jersey. This solution however, is very entertaining and a great example of sports design on trading cards in the 1970's. In the Jim McMillian image, you can't tell whether he is about to drive past you or run away!
In addition to the odd uniform treatment, these early cards feature some great 1970's design styles and typefaces. The colors on the cards are pure 1970's. Trading card design of today is a high-tech industry, employing all of the design bells and whistles and techniques available in the industry. In the 1970's there was no Photoshop, so the card designers had to get creative, and these cards are a wonderful example of the way it was done in those days.