The 2009 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot took place last weekend, offering Panini America the opportunity to get the first shots of rookies for trading cards, along with memorabilia and autographed items as the exclusive trading card licensee for the NBA. Thirty-five members of this year’s rookie class took part, including top picks Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn, Jordan Hill, Stephen Curry and DeMar Derozan.
“Our first NBA Rookie Photo Shoot was a great success, the rookie class was phenomenal to work with and we got some great stuff to incorporate into our trading card programs,” said Panini’s Scott Prusha. “We had two photography stations, one for action, including a camera on top of the backboard and a portrait station that provided some unique shots. Autographs are always a big part of these events because it’s the one shot a year we get to have all the guys in one spot, so we took advantage of that, including getting some on-card signatures that we plan in include in our first few launches.
Photography, signatures and even materials from this event will first appear in Prestige Basketball.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys for our first event,” Prusha said. “We had already spent some time with Tyler (Hansbrough) and Blake (Griffin) and saw first-hand how great they were when they signed for us at the National. The rest of the guys measured up and were just awesome and fun to be around.”
The rookies didn’t have to wait long to see their first cards. Panini had some ready for them even before the event. “We took shots of the guys on Saturday as they checked into the hotel and had actual cards printed up that night to give to the players on Sunday,” Prusha said. “They ran around like little kids getting each other to sign their cards. These are guys that now play professional sports, and they were excited to have each others cards. It was just cool to watch.”