Panini Eternal isn’t just about the NFL — it’s about the NBA, too.
Panini America‘s second offering in its high-end real-time cardboard program and the 2016-17 Panini Eternal set was released on Friday with an NBA Finals jersey of Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving being the showcase piece.
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Way back in 1999, Elton Brand was a star center for the Duke Blue Devils — a center from tiny Peekskill, N.Y., who was about to make a big impression as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Fast-forward to today and the former Chicago Bull is coming out of retirement to join the NBA’s worst team — the Philadelphia 76ers, owners of a 3-33 record — to help mentor another former Blue Devils star and first-round pick, Jahlil Okafor. Okafor, of course, has had issues off the court this season while also picking up the NBA game quickly. It’s a match made in Blue Devils collecting heaven.
“He’s not unlike most 20-year-olds you probably know, and he’s definitely not at all different than most of his fellow players,” Brand wrote in a piece for Sports Illustrated’s website. “… if camera phones were around when Brad Miller, Ron Artest and I were Jahlil’s age, we might’ve been banned from the league altogether, never mind suspended for a few games.”
So, what about Brand on cardboard?
This in from the Philadelphia Daily News after the NBA debut of Jahlil Okafor Wednesday night in Boston …
It is impossible to overstate the significance of Jahlil Okafor . . . though the Philadelphia region seemed mystifyingly indifferent. Think about it: The Sixers finally added a complete player. This is Eric Lindros, Jim Thome, Donovan McNabb and Allen Iverson.
With apologies to Sir Charles, Okafor is the best real big man to hit town since Moses [Malone], rest his soul, except Moses wasn’t a savior. Jahlil Okafor brings salvation in short pants.
Okafor scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a pair of shots in his debut. Said his coach later in the story about his ability to work on the court: “That’s a hint of Tim Duncan.”
We’ll have to wait a while to see if he’s the next Timmahhh, but we can start by looking at Okafor’s early cardboard.