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‘Mint Conditions’ Host Brad Parker Talks Cards, TikToks and Trick Shots

‘Mint Conditions’ Host Brad Parker Talks Cards, TikToks and Trick Shots

Ben Burrows

If you opened TikTok over the last year to a guy knocking down full-court trick shots in the park, chances are it was Brad Parker.

If you’ve watched a sports card talk show over the last few months on Instagram, Twitter, Twitch or Youtube, that was probably Brad Parker, too.

Currently, Parker spends a lot of his time in front of the camera as host of The Score‘s “Mint Conditions” — a show that focuses on sports cards, memorabilia, NFTs and anything else in the sports collectibles world.

Parker got his start in the media world behind the camera, though. A former reporter for Hoop, much of his viral TikTok content is a behind-the-scenes look at experiences and interviews from covering all things NBA.

Like many collectors, Parker rediscovered his love for the hobby while waiting out the Covid-19 pandemic. He then paired his card collection with his new job at The Score to create one of the hobby’s best new channels.

Sports Card Investor chatted with Parker about covering the NBA, his TikTok fame, card collecting and “Mint Conditions.”

Questions and answers were edited for length and clarity.

For our readers that aren’t familiar with you on TikTok or Instagram, give us a little introduction into who you are and what you’ve been up to.

I’ve been a social media content creator for the past three to four years. I formerly worked at Hoop where I’d cover NBA games — Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, a plethora of other different sporting events. Whether there was an All-Star game, draft, player appearances or brand appearances. And I really fell in love with being at the games, being at the events, and establishing a sense of a relationship with the athletes. My whole angle was to go in there and do something different than the other media guys. I want to establish some sort of relationship with the athletes. For example, if everyone’s talking to Kristaps Porzingis back in 2018, or Michael Beasley when he was hot, I’m going to go over to the Tier 2 guys that aren’t getting much love. I’m gonna do my research before a game, and I’m going to ask them some fun, light questions. So, you know, next time I’m in the locker room they want me coming back.

Worked at Hoop for a couple years — the pandemic hit, I was furloughed. And then about a year ago, I stumbled across some coworkers at The Score. Had an opportunity to interview — they had a position open for a Content Creator, and I jumped in immediately. I’ve always been good behind the camera. I’ve always been good at coming up with my own unique ideas and social content, but I was thrust into a position where I’m working from home. I could only do whatever I could do in the comfort of my home, in my apartment. I’m not going to games for the time being, so we really had to think outside the box. And at first I had my own betting show because The Score focuses a lot on betting and gambling as it becomes legal in the States and Canada. But the sports card market bounced back out of nowhere over the pandemic and I fell in love with the hobby again. That’s when I started to ideate along with my coworkers, and my managers, and we came up with the idea for Mint Conditions.

Let’s talk about your TikTok experience. You have almost 100,000 followers on there — walk me through that process and what’s it been like to see the channel explode like it has?

So, it’s pretty cool. I do basketball trick shots for fun on the side, and that’s my thing. When I was home at my parents house for eight months during the pandemic, I had all the opportunity in the world because I was furloughed. So I started creating content on my own, but I also used a lot of the behind-the-scenes footage that I had access to when I was working at Hoop. So I had all that footage on my phone, and I figured I’d upload it to TikTok. It was relatively new at the time, and all of a sudden I started getting familiarized with the algorithms, and the hashtagging, and the proper time to post. One thing led to another, and I started growing a following. I’m almost at 100,000. We have about 1,800 more followers to go. But the cool part is I’m co-managing The Score’s page as well, which has 3.6 million followers. So it’s pretty cool to do — I put my personal page on the back burner for now.

What was the inspiration for the trick shot videos?

So, my dream from an early age was to be a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Unfortunately I had zero vertical. I can’t jump, I can’t really run that quick, but one thing I’m blessed with, one thing I’m good at — and I’m not good at too many things — is I happen to be very good at basketball trick shots. Now, people think it’s luck, but it’s muscle memory. It’s weird. I can take you to a full court, and you could put up a bunch of half-court shots, full-court shots, backwards, on your knees, whatever. They’ll go in eventually. I weirdly make it on like the fourth, fifth, or sixth try. In high school I didn’t really get much playing time, so in practice I’d mess around with some trick shots and I became the king of Horse real quick. And then social media comes out — I’m obviously going to document it.

Let’s talk about sports cards — how did you get started collecting?

That’s 100,000% all due to my father. My dad’s a huge sports guy — he instilled it in my brother and I from an early age to be a collector. He started collecting (boxes) for me and my brother the minute he found out he was having boys. He collected cards, so he got us into it at an early age. It taught me how to read, how to do math, how to memorize things, how to collect, how to trade, and how to be social with people. It goes way beyond the hobby for me. I was able to establish a large collection from an early age — I probably have 40,000 to 50,000 cards to this day. A lot of them are from the Junk Wax era, unfortunately, but I have a lot of fun memories growing up. Obviously camera phones weren’t a thing, but I wish I could have taken pictures and videos of me opening them because I pulled some bangers. But from an early age, it’s been something near and dear to my heart. When I went off to college it kind of stopped, and then this past year my love for the hobby came back. And now I have this platform with the “Mint Conditions” show.

What do you typically collect?

I’m all NBA. All-in on NBA. I have a ton of memorabilia — I collect sports jerseys. I have probably 450 NBA jerseys. The obscure Champion ones from the 90s for the most part. Some 8×10 autographs, game-used balls, jerseys, all that stuff. But basketball cards is where it’s at for me. I’m big on rookie cards, I’m big on memorabilia cards, autograph cards. I’m new into the grading game — all my cards were raw. I’ve got 180 cards out at PSA right now praying that they come back sometime soon. But it’s been pretty great to get back involved with the hobby and really work on the investing side of things and the collecting side.

How much of your collection is investing and how much is personal collection?

I’ve been selling off all my cards. I’m consolidating my collection. I have so many cards that are mid-tier value, so I’m getting rid of all of those. Instead of having 20 Kevin Garnett rookie cards, I’m going to sell them all and buy one sick one. Now, I have attachment issues, and it’s really tough getting rid of some things. But I’m learning the investing side, the selling side. I don’t need 50,000 cards. It would be cool to have a sick 40-card collection, so I’m trying that right now. But a lot of it is personal. A lot of it’s PC, so it’s going to be tough to part ways with things.

What players do you typically target?

I’m a 90s baby. I fell in love with the game in the mid to late 90s. Kevin Garnett is my all-time favorite, then Kobe, Iverson, Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, T-Mac, Shaq — that era that I grew up on. Then the next era I grew up on is LeBron, Melo, Wade. For my previous job I got to know some of the players, so it’s kind of cool to collect guys that you establish some sort of relationship with, and I’ve been doing that a lot as well. I have a bunch of John Wall, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving. Some of the newer guys — they don’t hold as much value. But then I’ve got my Durants and Currys.

So you don’t own much, if any, ultra-modern? Why is that?

One thing I preach to people — I don’t like to give too much advice, I say do your own research. But one thing I am fond of is collecting the guys that I grew up watching — also to make smart investments — but I want to collect guys that have solidified themselves in NBA history. What they’ve done on the court, the mark they left on the game, can’t be tarnished. So the GOATs, the Jordans, the Kobes, Shaqs, LeBron even though he’s still playing. The guys like that. Magic, Bird, those are the guys I target. I get why people love ultra-modern, but God forbid, Luka could tear an ACL — or Trae or Zion. Every time Zion goes up for a dunk I hold my breath. I’m not in the game to take a risk like that. Not about it.

Lastly, let’s talk about your show Mint Conditions. How did that get started and how has it been going?

We try to come up with original concepts and ideas for shows and things that could be habitual and come out on a weekly basis. So it was a perfect marriage because I’m obsessed with basketball, I’m obsessed with sports cards, and the sports card hobby is back. There’s not many media outlets out there, if any, that are really producing sports card content, memorabilia content, NFT content, trading card content. We’re not limited to just sports cards, so other episodes we’ve talked about Top Shot, and we’ve talked about weird obscure memorabilia. We’re going to get into some other stuff as well, so we’re not limited. We got into it because we thought there was a unique opportunity for us to capture some of the limelight that the sports card world is receiving.

Not everyone is a sports card fan and I’m not trying to convert everyone. I’m trying to make everyone knowledgeable — we’re taking more of a professor teaching a 1-on-1 class approach and really informing the general public. I’m familiarizing myself with the NFT world, so we’re getting to that as well. I really enjoy it and I have this massive platform to do it on so it’s like the perfect marriage. I hoped that it would become something big and it’s trending in that direction.

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