IRVING, Texas, April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Panini America (www.paniniamerica.net), the world's largest sports and entertainment collectables company and the NBA's exclusive trading card and sticker partner, has inked Los Angeles Clippers slam-dunk sensation Blake Griffin to an exclusive multi-year agreement.
Griffin joins a growing roster of exclusive athletes that are part of the Panini family, including five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick of the Washington Wizards in the 2010 NBA Draft. Panini originally signed Griffin to an exclusive rookie deal for the 2009-10 season when Griffin was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, but Griffin's season ended early due to injury.
"Panini America will forever hold a special place for me because it's the company that helped make a dream come true by producing my first NBA trading cards," Griffin said. "The opportunity to join the Panini family and work with a company that is at the forefront of innovation and has reinvigorated the trading card category is special."
As part of the exclusive multi-year agreement, Griffin's autographs and memorabilia will be found only in Panini products. He also will be featured on Panini products and packaging, as well as in Panini's national advertising, marketing and social media initiatives.
Griffin and his Panini America teammates will be the faces of the company's new Panini Authentic memorabilia division (www.paniniauthentic.com) that launches next month. In addition, all four exclusive Panini athletes will be highlighted in the much anticipated Panini HRX, the industry's first video trading cards that have been in development for the last 18 months and are designed to bring collectors closer to the athletes with unique behind-the-scenes content and individualized footage.
One of the most talked-about talents in the NBA this season with slam dunks routinely featured in national highlights, Griffin also has had success away from the court, igniting the trading card world and becoming a favorite of collectors. His Panini-produced Rookie Cards from the 2009-10 National Treasures basketball set have sold for as much as $4,000 this season. Scarcer copies of the card have fetched as much as $7,000.
Panini America is the only company in the world that manufactures fully licensed trading cards and stickers for the NFL, NFL PLAYERS, NHL, NHLPA, NBA and FIFA World Cup. The company also owns exclusive entertainment licenses with Disney, Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson, and more than 600 global licenses with other sports and entertainment properties.
"Blake has captured the imagination of millions of people across the world this season – fans and non-fans alike – and we saw him as a must-have player," said Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America. "His unique blend of athleticism, power and tenacity make him an unparalleled talent on the court. We're thrilled to have him join our family."
Panini America became the exclusive trading card partner of the NBA beginning with the 2009-10 season. The Panini Group purchased the industry's second-oldest trading-card company, Donruss, in March 2009 and formed the new subsidiary, Panini America, Inc. Since that time, Panini has taken significant steps to fortify its position in the sports card category as a whole and the basketball landscape in particular, including an exclusive relationship with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
ABOUT BLAKE GRIFFIN:
Selected first overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, rookie Blake Griffin is taking the NBA by storm and breaking records every step of the way. Known for his high-flying dunks and extraordinary athleticism, Griffin competed on the 2011 NBA All-Star Team, the first rookie All-Star voted to the game by coaches since Tim Duncan in 1998. He also took first prize in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest and participated in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam. A highlight reel sensation equipped with the size, strength, quickness and skill to keep his household name buzz-worthy for many years to come, Griffin has transformed the Clippers into a must-watch franchise. A native of Oklahoma City, Okla., the 6'10" power forward attended the University of Oklahoma, where he was one of the highest rated and most decorated recruits in Sooners history. A media magnet, Griffin has already earned numerous accolades, including the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Adolph Rupp Trophy, John Wooden Award, Naismith Award, Sports Illustrated Player of the Year, multiple NBA Western Conference T-Mobile Rookie of the Month honors and many more.
The Panini Group, established almost 50 years ago in Modena, Italy, has subsidiaries throughout Europe, Latin America and the United States. Panini is the world leader in officially licensed collectibles and is fast becoming the most significant publisher of collectibles in the U.S., with official licenses for NBA, NFL, NHL, FIFA, Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., and other key properties from many other licensors. Panini has distribution channels in more than 100 countries and employs a staff of more than 800. For more information visit us at www.paniniamerica.net or www.paninigroup.com. You can also follow Panini America on its official blog The Knight's Lance http://paniniamerica.wordpress.com/, on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, and on YouTube.
Tracy Hackler, Panini America
SOURCE Panini America