Of course, baseball isn't EVERYTHING to the sports world, since two of our "big 4" pro leagues hit their stride when flakes start falling. Today's #5 profile pictures one of those, basketball, and matched the NBA's third season tip-off in late 1948. It also coincided with an expansion from eight to twelve teams, reflecting the roundball's growing success and fan base. (Two of its founding franchises--Boston Celtics and New York Knicks--retain their original city and moniker.)
Bowman's hand-tinted coloring of black-and-white photos precedes their 1949 baseball issue, so is the first appearance of this love-it-or-hate-it design. The set also interspersed bird's eye diagrams (like this #5) with their player photos, probably to help new fans understand on-court strategy and action. Its 72-card checklist contains the Mona Lisa of basketball rookies, Hall-of-Famer George Mikan.
1948 Bowman Basketball #69, George Mikan
Compared to Mikan's detailed bio back and "famous make pencils" ad, the diagrams read like simple "INSERT TAB A IN SLOT B" instructions from high school shop class. Most of these plays remain basketball staples, despite the overall evolution and sophistication of modern offenses.
Value: Based on eBay searches, dealers charge $10-20 for low-grade 1948 diagram cards. Actual players cost more and stars (mostly Hall of Famers) jump much higher, given the rarity and demand.
Fakes / reprints: Bowman reprinted this set as an insert in 2009, so look for that date on card backs.