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Ray Allen (True) Rookie Cards

With the 5th overall pick of the 1st Round in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Ray Allen from the University of Connecticut. In all, there are 16 official rookie cards of Hall of Famer Ray Allen, and there are 13 parallels too!

Attributes of Ray Allen’s Success

If you only listen to the hype you will develop a misconception that says, Ray Allen was a great 3 point shooter. Although true, he was also a complete player that later in his career became a great shooter.

He was a playmaker and had a way of breaking down defenses with his speed, athleticism, and quick releases.

He was raised as a military child and moved often but his parents were both athletic people and instilled into him that competitive spirit. This foundation is what gave him the discipline needed to excel in basketball.

The routine that he admits was hard but learned to love the grind of waking up eating breakfast, running, lifting weights, getting shots up daily, and playing four games in five nights.

In his Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech, Ray Allen said, he doesn’t believe in talent instead, he believes in hard work. To the kids, he said, “Put the work in and watch the magical ride you go on.”

Career Stats & Accomplishments

Allen had a successful playing career with the University of Connecticut. He was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves but was quickly traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Stephan Mulberry.

Ray Allen played 7 years with the Milwaukee Bucks, 5 years with the Celtics, 5 years with the Seattle Supersonics now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder, and 2 years with the Miami Heat.

In exactly 1300 career NBA games he averaged 18.9 points per game, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists, respectively. He ranks #1 in Career Leaders for 3 Point Field Goals with 2,973 made.

  • 10x All-Star
  • 2x All-NBA
  • 2x NBA Champion

1996 Bowman’s Best, #R5 (RC)

The inaugural year for Bowman’s Best was a complete success, with a short 125 card checklist and a great rookie class, it proved to be one of the premium products of the year. Cards were made on quality card stock.

Rookies are outlined in silver foil with gold highlights and banners which make this one beautiful card. The card back is well thought out and balanced giving us everything a card back should have; photo, player bio, stats, commentary.

But the real awesomeness of this product lies in its parallels, there are two of them. Refractors 1:12 packs and the popular Atomic Refractors inserted 1:24 packs and are a hobby favorite among collectors today.

1996 Collector’s Choice, #278 (RC)

The budget-friendly Collector’s Choice seems to be a forgotten product. Made of thin paper stock it seemed to be a product designed for kids and oftentimes insert themes were kid-related. Fantastic portrait photo and design on the card front.

A great action pose on the card back should really make this one memorable. Full NCAA stats and commentary towards the bottom of card and player bio at the top. There are no parallels to speak of in this product.

1996 E-X2000, #37 (RC)

This small 80 card set is large in design and eye-appeal! Friends they don’t make them like this anymore. Big, bold, colorful borders glisten in the light.

Action photos can be seen on both sides of the card due to the thin plastic see-through membrane that features clouds in the center of the card. Due to all this awesomeness, only player bio and stats can be given on the card back, but I’m okay with it.

One parallel to speak of, the ever-popular Credentials, randomly inserted and serial-numbered to /499.

1996 Finest, #22 (RC)

One of the most dynamic sets created by Topps because of its three-tier base set layout. Allow me to try and peel this onion. First, let me say, I am only looking at Series 1 (cards #1-146) breakdown because it’s the series with our keynote rookie in it.

Cards 1-100 is the Bronze theme, also known as “Common.” Cards 101-128 are known as the Silver theme or “Uncommon.” And cards 129-146 are the Gold theme, also known as “Rare.” Depending on the player, card fronts were branded with either the word Apprentices, Gladiators, Sterling, or Maestros.

Silvers and Golds can be considered short-prints by today’s standards because they were inserted at a rate of 1:4 and 1:24 packs, respectively.

Here’s where it gets good. All three-tiers have refractor parallels to them. Bronze Refractors 1:12 packs, Silver Refractors 1:48, and Gold Refractors were inserted 1:288 packs.

Card stock is a quality, premium product for sure. Card design is pretty creative with Mr. Allen looking like he’s ripping through a metal wall. Brown borders were nice but are a challenge to find nice centered copies. Overall, a product for the ages!

1996 Flair Showcase Row 2, #35 (RC)

Another small set, Flair Showcase features 90 cards in three different tiers (or rows), (Row 2, Row 1, and Row 0) for a total of 270 cards. The Row 2’s are considered the base cards the other two rows can be considered parallels.

The card is assembled with sturdy card stock and the design has lots of eye appeal. Solid card design front and back make this one a must-have. One parallel in this one, Legacy Collection inserted 1:30 packs. They are stamped and serial-numbered to /150.

1996 Fleer, #212 (RC)

This 300 card set was split up into two series of 150 cards in each. If you want the rookie cards from this set you’ll want to focus on Series 2 packs because that’s the only way you’ll see rookies, Series 1 has no rookies in it.

Borderless, full photography on thin paper stock allows for lots of damage to edges and corners so be sure to handle with care. Great photo of Ray Allen looking like he’s ready to crossover his defender.

The card back has somewhat of a nice design but lacks in player commentary even though they had plenty of room for it.

There are no parallels for this set but Fleer did produce a European set this same year. In fact, they went international with this set but only the wrappers and boxes had any difference in language, the cards themselves were identical to the American version in every way.

However, Series 2 cards have different numbering. Ray Allen in the European set is card number 242!

1996 Hoops, #279 (RC)

Similar to the Fleer set Skybox released the popular Hoops brand. Great action photo, no borders on thin paper stock. The biggest difference is the foil. The name at the bottom and the rookie emblem on top is a gold foil.

The card back offers everything it should have but lacks in eye appeal. Perhaps leaving half the card back in all-white gives it a generic look. No parallels in this one either.

1996 Metal, #136 (RC)

The Metal brand premiered the previous season, it was a hit within the hobby and it didn’t fail to deliver with this set either.

The overall theme of getting cards to look like metal had been attempted within insert sets but never been done with a complete base set, so the concept drew you in. The result? As you can see a great-looking rookie card of our featured Hall of Famer.

Capturing Allen on Draft Day, the silver foil background and the Fresh Foundation theme really dress’ this card up for success. Check out the back! A humble Allen answering the call to the NBA on that old-school flip phone. Even though it lacks player bio and stats I love it. There are no parallels for this card.

1996 Skybox Premium, #63 (RC)

Skybox offered collectors this premium product which took off in popularity due to its Autographics insert set.

The base set featured all the relevant rookie cards but for whatever reason, none of them indicates that. Nowhere does it show prospects, rookie, apprentice, etc. I guess they assume that everyone will know who the rookies are.

You do get a nice two-tone canvas background and a great action photo of Allen going in for a finger roll lay-up. Card back has nothing to brag about and there appears to be plenty of room for stats.

There is one parallel, Rubies were inserted 1 per box and basically feature red foil anywhere you see gold foil, they are not serial numbered.

1996 SP, #136 (RC)

This beautiful premium product released by Upper Deck is underrated in my opinion. Great card stock but the blue borders can chip easily making it challenging to find clean copies.

Great portrait photography, big bold lettering and that handsome SP brand logo at the upper right-hand side make this design clean, elegant, and simple.

More of the same on the card back giving collectors everything a good card back should have. There are no parallels to speak of in this one.

1996 Topps, #217 (RC)

Topps base brand didn’t disappoint here. Great classic design and although the front photo appears very dark there’s a lot of action going on here as it shows 6 total players persuing the rock.

Card back gives us a great photo as well and appears to show Mr. Allen playing peek-a-boo. The design of the Cocard back is very well thought out and elegant. One parallel to speak of, NBA at 50 is stamped on each card front and has a silverish front to them.

1996 Topps Chrome, #217 (RC)

This is the debut year for Topps Chrome and is by far the headliner set for the 1996-97 season. To this day these cards carry a premium due to their demand. It was a retail-only product and mimics the regular Topps set entirely.

The chromium technology makes the card stock much sturdier. One parallel does exist for this product, the extremely popular, Refractor was inserted 1:12 packs.

1996 UD3, #5 (RC)

There are only 60 cards to this set but Upper Decks UD3 takes the award for most creative! Hardwood Prospects, which is cards 1-20 in the set, has that wood look to its front and back.

The photo is encased in what appears to be a basketball court which is just genius. A different photo was inserted on the back along with stats and commentary. Overall, a design for the ages.  There are no parallels in this set.

1996 Ultra, #60 (RC)

Borderless, full action photo printed on great card stock is what you get with the Ultra brand. The player and team names are combined in a highlighted swoosh. Card back gives two photos, full college stats, and player bio.

These are known for chipping especially on the back of the card. Parallels include Gold Medallion which features gold foil where player and team names are and inserted 1:12 packs. Platinum Medallion is inserted in 1:100 packs.

1996 Upper Deck, #69 (RC)

Great photography, card design, and card stock. Heck, even his suit matches this handsome card design. The back of the card is exceptional as well.

A joyful portrait photo of Allen settling into his new role as an NBA player. Full player stats, bio, commentary, and college highlights. A fantastic card with no parallels.

1996 Z-Force, #140 (RC)

A “Z Force” is a physics term and basically means an axial force. In other words, the line about which a rotating body, such as the earth turns.

You can see the Z-Force power breaking through in the design of the card front with big bold font and the same rookie emblem that Skybox used in its Hoops product.

The card back really does not go well with the card front. Is that a warped hardwood floor or a banner? It seems like “forced” creativity that fell a bit short for the card back. There are no parallels in this product.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.


Ray Allen Stats | (accessed November 28, 2019).

Ray Allen | Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech. NBA YouTube. (accessed November 29, 2019).