Some Basketball Cards are so expensive that they get sold for millions of dollars. Over the past couple of years their values have burst.
The cards have made an excellent imprint on the sports card market, with some fetching millions of dollars at auction.
They are mostly collectibles that are meant to be treasured on their own; thus, devoted NBA fans have collected and exchanged them with little regard for financial gain.
Similarly, over 26 NBA cards have sold for seven figures, including names such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, and Kobe Bryant.
We have compiled a list of the most valuable and expensive basketball cards of all time, and each player on this list is either qualified or guaranteed to be admitted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
25. 1985 Prism/Jewel Stickers Jordan Rookie Card
A 1985 Prism/Jewel Stickers #7 Michael Jordan Rookie Card graded NM-MT+ 8.5 by BGS is worth $31,200.
The series, which included this brilliant and vivid oddity, was only available for a short time during the mid-1980s, and the goods were exclusively sold from racks of gumball machines placed at variety and grocery store entrances, per Goldin auction.
The BGS condition report for this excellent sample is as follows: 8.5 for centering, 8.5 for corners, 8.5 for edges, and 8.5 for the surface.
24. 1969-70 Topps #25 Lew Alcindor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Rookie RC
A 1969 Topps #25 Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) Rookie Card PSA NM-MT 8 is worth roughly $32,376, according to psacard.com.
It is the sole known rookie card of the most productive offensive player in NBA history. Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, created the sky hook, an offensive weapon that no one could stop during his reign.
This enormous card, spanning roughly 2 12" by 4 11/16", is susceptible to more general wear owing to its size, is difficult to locate well-centered, and has a white backdrop that can be a refuge for noticeable print flaws.
23. 2019 National Treasures Zion Williamson Rookie Patch Autograph
As reported by The Action Network's Darren Rovell on Twitter, an autographed trading card of Williamson that was auctioned off on eBay went for over $100,000.
An online auction sold the signed Williamson rookie card for around $99,800, per CBS Sports.
Williamson made his NBA debut on January 22, 2020, and he dazzled with 13 consecutive games of 20 points or more in 19 outings. It was the first such run in NBA history for a teen.
22. 2004-05 Upper Deck's Exquisite Collections Auto Patch
An autographed Michael Jordan card from Upper Deck's Exquisite Collections Auto Patch Parallel Series from 2004–05 sold for $150,000 at auction in July 2020.
The card's BGS condition rating is Centering 9.5, Corners 9, Edges 8, Surface 8.5. The exclusive, limited-edition item is serial-numbered "1/1," according to Goldin Auctions.
Per Bleacher Report, the NBA superstar has scrawled an amazing blue-ink signature on the obverse, where the card front presentation also includes an extraordinary, letter-segment game-worn jersey patch relic.
Conversely, a Gem Mint 10 1986-87 Michael Jordan rookie card sold for $150,000 in an online auction in December 2020.
21. 1957 Topps #77 Bill Russell
Memory Lane, Inc. sold a 1957 Topps Basketball #77 Bill Russell rookie card for $204,608 in Winter Rarities 2022.
This is the sole known rookie card of the NBA's all-time leading scorer. This is also the key to the 1957 Topps collection, which is one of the most complex and valuable basketball issues ever published.
Bill Russell won 11 titles with the Boston Celtics in 13 seasons. While Russell led the league in rebounding four times and averaged 22.5 rebounds per game and 15.1 points per game during his career, numbers alone cannot evaluate his impact.
Based on PSA Card, this card has a PSA MT 8 grade. The card has excellent centering, which is unusual for this series, and superb color on both the front and back.
20. 1961 Fleer #8 Wilt Chamberlain Rookie
Heritage Auctions sold a 1961 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain Rookie #8 PSA Mint 9 card for $348,000 in January 2022.
As per Collectors Dashboard, Wilt Chamberlain's rookie card is one of the most famous rookies ever created, as well as one of the true cornerstones of the basketball card-collecting industry.
Besides, Chamberlain's entire control of the game will not be forgotten, and his overall athletic ability was exceptional.
The 1961 Fleer #8 Wilt Chamberlain is a heartbreaker with entirely untouched print and photo quality, pristine surfaces, four razor-sharp, Mint edges, and a Mint reverse.
19. George Mikan 1948 Bowman Rookie Card
Memory Lane Inc. sold George Mikan's 1948 rookie card for $426000 in June 2021.
Similarly, the card sold for $403,664 in SCP Auctions' Fall Premier online auction in 2015, setting a record for a basketball card. According to USA Today, SCP Auctions said that the bidder intended to remain unidentified at that time.
The card of the Minneapolis Lakers' Hall of Fame center is the only one of its kind to be graded "Gem Mint 10" by third-party authenticator PSA Cards. The card was originally auctioned for $225,000 in 2009.
In addition to his placement on a highly rare, high series card in his era's most treasured and essential series, Mikan is considered one of the early athletes who permanently revolutionized the game of basketball.
He was also one of his sport's first great superstars and its first "big man" - an athlete who towered over his rivals, per goldinauction.com.
18. 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Cards
The 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card set a new high price. Both cards were identical with a Gem Mint PSA 10 rating and sold for $738,000 apiece at Goldin Auctions.
Though record-breaking prices were common in the trading card world, the magnitude of the spike with the Michael Jordan cards stands out, according to Hypebeast.
The value of the card increased by more than $500,000 in less than a month. A PSA 10 Jordan rookie card sold for $217,000 on January 3, 2021, while another sold for $211,560 in December 2020.
The same card, the 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card, would have been valued at roughly $32,000 in December 2019.
17. PSA 10 Gold Prizm Doncic
On February 1st, 2021, a limited-edition Luka Doncic Panini Gold Prizm Rookie Card was auctioned for $800,000, the highest price ever paid for a Doncic card.
As per The Bleacher Report, the PSA 10 Gold Prizm Doncic sold by Goldin Auctions was one of ten total made and one of three PSA 10s. With 23 bids, the card soon climbed from its $75,000 starting price.
The trading card market has grown to be one of the most competitive on the collector circuit, with bidders paying extravagant prices for rare rookies.
16. 1980-81 Topps Scoring Leader Larry Bird-Magic Johnson
In August 2021, one of 25 Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rookie cards rated Gem Mint 10 by PSA sold for a record-breaking $861,000 at Goldin Auctions.
The previous auction in 2021 set for the most popular rookie cards ever printed was just over $500,000; one was sold by Goldin in May, and the other through SCP Auctions in July.
Julius Erving is featured on the Scoring Leaders card from the 1980–81 Topps collection, which featured three miniature individual photos of various players separated by perforations, as per Sports Collectors daily.
15. Upper Deck's 2003-2004 Exquisite Collection
Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions sold a rare card of LeBron James and Michael Jordan with an NBA logo patch and bits of game-worn jerseys from both players for a stunning $900,000 during a private sale.
The card was part of the Upper Deck's 2003-2004 "Exquisite Collection," and it features authentic NBA patches from game-worn jerseys worn by James and Jordan.
As per CBS Sports, the Bulls emblem on Jordan's side of the card is a piece of his Wizards jersey. It is extremely rare since it is the only card of its kind in the whole world. The $900,000 price tag is more than the $500,000 paid for a 1969-1970 Topps Lew Alcindor card in 2016.
According to TMZ, the card is currently the most expensive item of merchandise depicting James or Jordan.
14. 2002-03 Upper Deck Autograph Logoman
The 2002-03 season Kobe Bryant Upper Deck card sold at auction for $922,500, breaking the previous record for a non-rookie Kobe card on October 24, 2022.
Before putting it up for auction, Beckett gave the signed Logo Mania card a 9 overall grade. The serial number on the limited-edition item is "1/1."
Similarly, in March, a Bryant rookie card sold for $1.8 million, marking an all-time high for Kobe trading cards, as reported by Bleacher Report.
Since Bryant's unexpected demise in a helicopter crash in January 2020, collectors have paid increasingly large sums for his memorabilia.
13. 1986 Upper Deck signed Fleer Rookie Card
An autographed Michael Jordan rookie card sold for more than $1 million at Christie's auction in June 2022. The 1986–87 Fleer rookie card is one of 23 copies that Jordan signed in 2006 as part of Upper Deck's 20th-anniversary celebration.
The card set a record for a Jordan rookie card when it sold for $1,008,000 at an auction of Jordan memorabilia. Despite the record price, the transaction fell short of Christie's pre-sale estimate of $2-$3 million.
Michael Jordan's rookie card is the second-highest BGS (Beckett Grading Services) rated UDA signed Fleer #57 card in existence. It has an overall rating of 8.5 (signature 9) with sub-ratings of 8 (centering), 8.5 (corners), 9.5 (edges), and 9 (surface).
In general, the BGS grading standards are widely accepted in the industry. There is a decent chunk of highly-rated Michael Jordan Fleer PSA grades—326 graded 10 by PSA, although only 6 have been graded 10 by Beckett, which is somewhat more demanding and hence more onerous.
Furthermore, Beckett evaluated 12 of the 14 graded instances of the UDA x Fleer Rookie Card, whereas PSA graded only two.
12. 2012-13 Panini National Treasures NBA Logoman Rookie
In 2021, an autographed Anthony Davis rookie card sold for $1.045 million at auction.
The 2012-13 National Treasures autographed card was auctioned off by Goldin Auctions with a minimum offer of $150,000. The card's ultimate price was determined by 26 bids.
Conversely, trading cards have seen a tremendous surge in recent years as collectors flock to auction houses in search of rare artifacts.
Based on a Bleacher report, a Stephen Curry trading card was sold for slightly under $1 million. In July 2020, a LeBron James rookie card sold for $1.8 million, breaking the record for a basketball trading card.
The total record is $3.936 million, which a bidder paid for an autographed Mike Trout card in August 2021. The Davis card has an overall "mint" condition rating of 9/10 and is numbered 151 in the Panini collection.
11. 2009-10 Panini National Treasures Century Platinum Rookie
On August 6, 2022, the 2009-10 Panini National Treasures Autograph Jersey Century Platinum #206 Stephen Curry Signed Patch Rookie Card was sold for $1,080,000.
BGS encapsulated and rated the gem mint 9.5, with a signature grade of "10" by Goldin. Steph Curry has signed this premium, limited-edition collectible with a bold and accurate blue ink signature on the obverse.
Its card front design also includes a multi-color and letter-segment memento of an event-worn jersey patch. The following is the BGS condition report for this card: 9.5 for centering, 9 for corners, 9.5 for edges, and 9.5 for the surface.
The card contains a statement that confirms the manufacturer's assurance of authenticity for the piece's content and serves as the item's COA. The serial number on the limited-edition piece is "4/5."
10. 2013-14 Panini Prizm Prizms Black Mosaic
A second Giannis card from his rookie season surpassed the million-dollar milestone. The 2013-14 Panini Prizm Black Mosaic Giannis Antetokounmpo jersey sold for $1,168,500 at Goldin Auctions' 2020 Holiday Auction.
The card received an overall grade of 9.5 from BGS, with 10 subgrades for edges and corners and 9.5 for centering and surface.
As per Beckett, this card comes after Antetokounmpo's 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Logoman Autograph was sold for $1,857,300 in September 2020.
It was one of two 2013-14 Panini Prizm Basketball Giannis cards that sold for astronomical sums at auction. The Prizms Black Autograph, which was also a one-of-one, sold for $384,000 at Heritage Auctions.
BGS rates the card as Gem Mint 9.5, with subgrades of 10 for centering and edges and 9.5 for corners and surface.
9. 2004-05 Upper Deck Ultimate Signatures Logos
A LeBron James-signed Logoman game-used patch card from his 2004–05 season fetched $1,291,500 at Goldin Auctions.
According to Goldin Auctions, the card was the most valuable, featuring James from 2004 forward. As per Darren Rovell of the Action Network, the James card record is $1.8 million for a rookie patch card from 2003–04.
The Upper Deck "Ultimate Signatures Logos" card depicts James during his second NBA season when he was a part of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Per the Goldin, PSA has designated the card as "genuine," and PSA/DNA has assigned it an autograph grade of 10. The one-of-a-kind, limited-edition sculpture is serial-numbered "1/1."
8. Upper Deck Exquisite All-NBA Access Triple Logoman
The Upper Deck Exquisite Collection All NBA Access Triple Logoman collectibles honor three of the most skilled and important superstars to ever grace the hardwood: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.
PSA-certified "Authentic" encapsulation was sold for $1,680,000 on August 7, 2022.
The face of the card has three game-used "Logoman" patches, each worn in NBA game action by one of the card's subjects, giving immense status to this one-of-a-kind prize.
According to Goldin Auctions, the collectible has uncirculated exhibition conditions with exceptionally excellent visual features observable from all angles.
The card contains a statement that confirms the manufacturer's assurance of authenticity for the piece's content and acts as the item's COA. The serial number on the limited-edition item is "1/1."
7. 1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractors Rookie Card
A Kobe Bryant rookie card was fetched for $1.795 million at auction in March 2021, making it one of the most valuable basketball cards (and the most expensive Bryant card) ever.
According to Goldin Auctions, the auction firm that brokered the sale stated, the card was in near-perfect condition with top-quality ratings across the board.
In addition, Bryant's memorabilia has increased in value as well, but the quality of the rookie card auctioned was key to its high price.
As per Goldin, the "1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractors #138 Kobe Bryant Rookie Card - BGS PRISTINE/Black Label 10" is one of only two in the world "at this degree of perfection."
6. 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Logoman Patch Autograph
On September 20, 2020, Goldin Auctions sold a one-of-one 2013–14 Panini National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Logoman Autograph for $1,857,300.
The cost of the card, including the buyer's premium, sets a benchmark for a basketball card. That surpasses the $1,800,000 paid for a 2003–04 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Patch Autograph LeBron James card in a Goldin auction in July 2020.
Similarly, it's Antetokounmpo's only one in the 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Basketball season. He also has one in the 2013–14 Immaculate Collection and four booklets with other players. However, none of the other rookies he's playing with are stars.
Moreover, BGS rates the 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Logoman Autograph as Mint 9, with a 10 for the signature. The subgrades for centering and edges are 9.5, the surface is 9, and the corners are 8.5, as per Beckett.
5. 1997 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems – Green
A rare Kobe Bryant basketball card broke a new selling record, and it's not even his rookie card.
A 1997–98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Emerald, depicting a young Bryant wearing a No. 8 jersey and dumping a pass mid-flight, sold for $2 million in a private transaction, according to PWCC Marketplace.
Although it lacks characteristics often associated with high pricing, such as an autograph or a swatch of a game-worn jersey, this Metal Universe card is nonetheless uncommon. It's four out of 100, and only the first ten cards in the set have an emerald variety; the remaining Precious Metal Gem inserts are red.
Beckett Grading Services gave the card an 8.5 for condition, which matched the best grade the card has ever gotten. This is lower than in other high-end sales, but Beckett says the 1997–98 Precious Metal Gems set is a difficult grade due to chipping.
A graded BGS 10 Pristine Black Label rookie card from the 1996–97 Topps Chrome Refractor set, which was the previous top-selling Bryant card, sold for approximately $1.8 million in March 2021.
The recent sale of the late Laker legend's basketball card is one of the few instances in which a basketball card has hit the $2 million mark.
4. 1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey Autographs
Goldin Auctions' Private Sales Division accomplished the most expensive Jordan item sale of all time when a 1997-98 Upper Deck Game Jersey game-worn patch card with an on-card signature sold for $2.7 million.
Beckett Grading Services (BGS) grades the $2.7 million Jordan card as an 8 Near Mint-Mint. His autograph is graded 8 and numbered 6/23.
Based on a piece published by ESPN, Jordan's 1986-87 Fleer rookie card became famous, and his card sales soared by 370% on eBay in April 2020.
And the release of "The Last Dance" in 1997-98 Upper Deck may be Jordan's most significant because it is the first example of a Jordan-autographed memorabilia card in a collection.
The jersey patch on this card, however, is game-worn from the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, which served as a ceremonial goodbye to Magic Johnson, who retired on Nov. 7, 1991.
3. 2018 Panini National Treasures 1 of 1 Logoman Autograph
The National Treasures of 2018 The PWCC Marketplace November Premier Auction included a Panini rookie card of Luka Doncic with an NBA Logoman Patch Auto 1-of-1.
It was the first time the card had been put up for sale. The card was supposedly sold privately in March 2021 for $4.6 million. It was the highest sum ever paid for a basketball card at the time.
Currently, that sale is the second-highest price for a basketball card and the sixth-highest paid for a trading card. Well, at a public auction, no Doncic trading card had ever fetched more than $1 million.
But in November 2022 trading card auction sales, the 2018 National Treasures Luka Doncic Rookie NBA Logoman Patch Auto 1-of-1 card was in the exclusive company. It was sold for a record $3.12 million in November 2022 at PWCC Marketplace, as per Forbes.
2. 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Rookie Patch
On April 26, 2021, a rare LeBron James signed rookie card was acquired privately for $5.2 million, smashing the record for the most expensive basketball card transaction ever.
The James card, a 2003–04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection rookie patch autograph parallel, was listed for sale on PWCC Marketplace.
Beckett Grading Services awarded the card a grade of 9 out of a limited edition of 23 copies, making it the third highest-graded specimen in existence.
As per Forbes, a similar edition of the same James rookie card, with a 9.5 BGS grade, was auctioned for $1.85 million in July 2020, demonstrating how the sports card market, especially rare rookies of generational superstars, has surged in the past year.
Based on the NBA, the 2020/21 LeBron James Flawless Triple Logoman Panini sticker was auctioned off for $2.4 million in June 2022 at the Goldin collectibles market.
This James card is from Panini's 2020–21 "Flawless" edition and has the NBA logo patch from three of his jerseys, one from each of his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers.
James is now second on the NBA's career scoring chart and is on track to beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for first place next season.
1. 2009-10 Panini National Treasures Stephen Curry Rookie
Alt Fund II stated on July 6, 2021, that it had bought a 51% ownership stake in a 2009 Stephen Curry National Treasures Rookie Logoman Autograph for $5.9 million, marking a record for the highest price ever paid for a trading card.
In addition, Panini America Inc. has marked the Curry card as a 1/1, indicating that only one exists. On a scale of 1 to 10, professional sports authenticators gave it a perfect 8 rating.
The PSA grading agency rates the autograph on the Curry card as a Gem Mint 10, the highest attainable grade.
According to Forbes, the previous record holder was an exquisite 2003 Lebron James rookie that sold for $5.2 million in April 2021.
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