IRVING, Texas, June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Panini America (www.paniniamerica.net), the world's largest sports and entertainment collectibles company and the exclusive and official trading card manufacturer of the NBA, announced today that it has reached exclusive trading card agreements with seven of the top projected first-round picks in advance of Thursday's 2012 NBA Draft, including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson and Harrison Barnes.
The agreements grant Panini America exclusive rights to produce autographed trading cards of these future NBA stars who will join standout members of the 2011 NBA Draft class – including Panini America exclusive Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Kenneth Faried and more – to form a Double Rookie Card class in all of Panini America's 2012-13 NBA trading card releases. This marks the first time a Double Rookie Card class has existed in the NBA.
In addition to Kidd-Gilchrist (fresh off winning a National Championship at the University of Kentucky), Robinson (the 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year from the University of Kansas) and Barnes (a 2012 First Team All-ACC selection from North Carolina), Panini America also inked exclusive agreements with Andre Drummond, Austin Rivers, Jared Sullinger and John Henson.
Sullinger earned First Team All-America honors last season at Ohio State, averaging 17.5 points while leading the Buckeyes to the Final Four. Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, averaged 15.5 ppg as a Duke freshman during the 2011-12 season. Henson twice earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors at North Carolina. In his lone season at the University of Connecticut, Drummond averaged 10 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
"We're genuinely excited to add these gentlemen – the next generation of NBA superstars – to the Panini America family, and we can't wait to get their first trading cards into the hands of fans and collectors," said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop. "The presence of these players in our complete line of 2012-13 products, in concert with the best rookies from the 2011-12 season, will create an unprecedented opportunity for fans and collectors to pursue a Double Rookie Card class in Panini America's official NBA products throughout the entire season."
"By adding this dynamic group of players to its roster, Panini America has bolstered what promises to be a great season for NBA trading cards," said Lisa Goldberg, the NBA's Vice President of Licensing and Global Merchandising. "Panini America continues to create new and innovative ways to generate excitement in the trading card industry and the 2012-13 double Rookie Card program is another example."
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 the most significant publisher of collectibles in the U.S., with official licenses for MLBPA, NBA, NFL, NHL, FIFA, USA Baseball, Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros. and other key properties from many other licensors. Panini has distribution channels in more than 100 countries and employs a staff of over 800. For more information visit us at www.paniniamerica.net, www.paninigroup.com or www.paniniamerica.wordpress.com. You can also follow Panini America on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and on YouTube.
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 marketing and advertising partnership with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Panini America is the only company in the world that manufactures licensed trading cards and stickers for the NBA, NFL, NFL PLAYERS, NHL, NHLPA, MLBPA and FIFA World Cup. The company also has exclusive relationships with USA Baseball, USA Basketball and the U.S. Soccer Women's National Team. In addition Panini also has relationships with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and owns exclusive entertainment licenses with Disney, Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson, and more than 600 global licenses with other sports and entertainment properties.
Tracy Hackler, Panini America
SOURCE Panini America