1969 Topps Basketball Card Set: Big Cards and Big Style

In the late 1960s, Topps was already one of the leading producers of sports trading cards. In 1969, they ended their 12 year hiatus from making basketball cards by releasing a popular set that would become a collector’s favorite. The 1969 Topps Basketball card set consists of 99 cards, each featuring a full-color photograph of a prominent basketball player on a “tall” oversized card.

1969 Topps Elvin Hayes shown in a translucent card stand

Design and Layout

The 1969 Topps Basketball cards are instantly recognizable due to their size, 2-1/2” by 4-11/16”, which is bigger than standard-sized sports trading cards.  They are also known for their bright colors and simple design. The front of each card features a player’s photograph in front of a colorful oval, with his name at the top of the card and team’s city printed on the bottom.  The corners of the cards feature sketches of basketball players in action. The backs of the cards contain biographical information, career statistics, and a cartoon drawing of the player showing their height.

1969 Topps Willis Reed shown in a translucent card stand

Key Players

The 1969 Topps Basketball card set features some of the most famous basketball players in NBA history. Notable cards include Wilt Chamberlain (#1), Bill Russell (#20), Jerry West (#50), Willis Reed (#60), Earl “The Pearl” Monroe (#80) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor) (#25). 1969 is Kareem’s rookie card year and his card is the most valuable card in the set.   He helped lead the Milwaukee Bucks to the playoffs, a remarkable accomplishment for an expansion team. He averaged an astounding 28.8 points per game and 14.5 rebounds per game, both league-leading figures. These statistics helped him earn the NBA Rookie of the Year award and a spot on the NBA All-Star team.

1969 Topps Earl Monroe shown in a translucent card stand


The 1969 Topps Basketball card set remains popular among collectors today.  While the set is not as rare as some others, finding cards in top condition can be difficult. The bright colors on the front of the cards make wear and tear more noticeable, and the centering is tough with such little margins on each side of the main oval background of the card. A complete set of 1969 Topps Basketball cards in excellent condition can be worth many thousands of dollars.

Hall of Famers

The 1969 Topps Basketball card set features 29 hall of famers, with 19 of those being rookie cards, as follows:

Player Team in 1969 Position Hall of Fame Card Number
Wilt Chamberlain Los Angeles Lakers Center 1979 1
Gail Goodrich (R) Los Angeles Lakers Guard 1996 2
Bailey Howell Boston Celtics Forward 1997 5
Nate Thurmond (R) San Francisco Warriors Center 1985 10
Gus Johnson (R) Baltimore Bullets Forward 2010 12
Connie Hawkins (R) Phoenix Suns Forward 1992 15
John Havlicek (R) Boston Celtics Forward 1984 20
Al Attles San Francisco Warriors Guard 2019 24
Lew Alcindor (R) Milwaukee Bucks Center 1995 25
Elgin Baylor Los Angeles Lakers Forward 1977 35
Guy Rodgers Milwaukee Bucks Guard 2014 38
Billy Cunningham (R) Philadelphia 76ers Forward 1986 40
Bill Bradley (R) New York Knicks Forward 1983 43
Len Wilkens Seattle SuperSonics Guard 1989 44
Jerry Lucas (R) San Francisco Warriors Forward 1980 45
Oscar Robertson Milwaukee Bucks Guard 1980 50
Dave Bing (R) Detroit Pistons Guard 1990 55
Wes Unseld (R) Baltimore Bullets Center 1988 56
Willis Reed (R) New York Knicks Center 1982 60
Lou Hudson (R) Atlanta Hawks Guard 2021 65
Tom Sanders (R) Boston Celtics Forward 2011 72
Elvin Hayes (R) San Diego Rockets Forward 1990 75
Earl Monroe (R) Baltimore Bullets Guard 1990 80
Don Nelson (R) Boston Celtics Forward 2012 82
Hal Greer Philadelphia 76ers Guard 1982 84
Dave DeBusschere (R) New York Knicks Forward 1983 85
Jerry West Los Angeles Lakers Guard 1980 90
Walt Bellamy Atlanta Hawks Center 1993 95
Walt Frazier (R) New York Knicks Guard 1987 98

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