Remember all the cards you used to have that are now buried behind mountains of junk in your closet or garage; it’s time to dig them back out. If you thought collecting sports cards is dead or meant for kids, think again.
There has been an explosion with sports card collecting and basketball cards are now one of the hottest markets for collectors and investors.
Basketball cards from the 80s, 90s, 00s, and current cards now can be worth up to $100,000 or more!
Why Has Interest Gone Up With Basketball Cards?
There really isn’t any one reason why interest has grown tremendously over the last few years. Several factors are at play.
Professional sports have been around for a long time but the popularity of the leagues really started to blossom in the 70s, 80s, 90s. Partly it’s due to technology and televised games but I believe mainly it’s due to players like Michael Jordan becoming culture icons.
How many of you remember being mesmerized by Michael Jordan? MJ literally lifted the NBA himself.
Fast forward to today, the kids that grew up watching their favorite players and teams play in the 70s, 80s, 90s are now adults. They place a lot of sentimental value on what they grew up with and more importantly now have the money to be able to buy things they weren’t able to as a kid.
This includes sports memorabilia, shoes, and sports cards.
People have been collecting and flipping sneakers for a long time and websites like StockX.com now makes it very easy for people to find and sell any kind of sneakers without worry about authenticity. However with sneakers, quantity and availability are limited and there isn’t a luck factor involved as with sports cards.
With cards you can buy as many as packs or boxes as you want and you never know what you may get. Random inserts and base rookies, the cards pulled sometimes can be worth 10x-100x what you’ve paid for the pack or box.
So some sneaker collectors and flippers are now looking at sports cards especially as prices are skyrocketing.
Now that sports betting is now legal, sites like DraftKings and FanDuel make it so that anyone can bet on the outcome of any game. People who in the past didn’t want to place bets with Vegas can now do it literally anywhere and many are getting addicted.
Some are looking at other ways to get their fix and what better way than buying packs or boxes to open? Just like lottery tickets, there is a slight chance to make a killing. Although slim, it is possible to find a card worth tens of thousands of dollars from a $100 or $200-dollar box.
Just like sneaker collectors, people who bet on sports are now seeing sports cards in a different light. There is a lot of money to be made.
Manufactures are getting smarter or greedier (depends on how you look at it) these days by decreasing supply, increasing rarer inserts, and charging more for products. Forget the days of a $.99 pack with a piece of gum. Packs these days can range from a few dollars for a few thousands of dollars!
My good friend who has been collecting cards for decades argues that manufacturers needed to do this to drive up demand because there was a burnout phase in the 90s. Scarcity was needed and the way to do it is by decreasing supply, increasing rarer inserts, and charging more for products.
And because of these new changes, boxes of cards (especially basketball) get sold out almost immediately upon release. Distributors also jack up the prices extremely quickly upon release also because they know people are willing to pay for them.
And the inserts that people find these days are amazing. Numbered cards, patches, autographs and more are all extremely rare and valuable.
The top talent for sports have dramatically increased and rookie classes are getting deeper and deeper. For example in 2019, everyone was waiting for Zion Williamson to enter the league. Zion is a generational type player that the NBA has not seen before.
Weighing 285 lbs at 6’6”, Zion is built like a tank. Yet for a player this big, he has great hands, a soft touch around the basket and has a 48” vertical!
And so far he has not disappointed.
Last year we saw international star Luka Doncic enter the league. As a 19-year-old, he is now considered an MVP candidate. Many view him as the next Larry Bird. He is polished years beyond his age as his deep 3pts, his passes and decision making are outstanding.
And let’s not forget about Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Lebron James, etc… the list goes on and on. The talent in the NBA and other leagues are deep and people are excited about their future.
The world has faced plenty of outbreaks in the past but none in the modern era has there been one that forced governments around the world to go into mandatory quarantine. Retailers, restaurants, travel destinations, and sports are all shut down.
Sports are a part of people’s lives and people are filling their boredom and their sports fix by looking at sports cards.
Dramatic Increase in Price
It’s hard to say which came first, the interest first with price following or price going up first and interest following. Whatever the reason, there is a dramatic increase in price for sports cards…especially with basketball.
If you visit your local Target or Walmart and visit the cards isle, you’ll notice that there is plenty of baseball, football, and hockey boxes and packs everywhere. But you’ll notice that none exist for basketball. Every single box gets sold immediately.
Remember those cards I said to bust out of your closet and garage? Yea a lot of the rookies you have laying around are worth dramatically more now than even a few months ago. Some common MJ cards are worth hundreds and rookies even in horrible shape are worth thousands.
Same goes for many Halls of Famers such as Pippen, Shaq, Wade, Kobe, Carter, etc…
Cards that were once stagnant and worth nothing are now red hot. And if you get them graded and they happen to be in near mint or mint condition, they are worth even more.
Let me show you some examples.
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card PSA 1 – $2000
Now I know what you’re thinking, this is MJ. However, this is a PSA 1 graded card which means it’s nowhere near mint. Usually with PSA 1 cards, you have horrible corners or edges are messed up. Basically it would be a card you find in a shoebox somewhere, unprotected. Yet even with this kind of condition, the MJ rookie would be worth $2k! A better conditioned MJ rookie are going much much higher.
1988 Fleer Scottie Pippen Rookie Card PSA 10 – $2000
Before the documentary “the last dance” aired, this mint Pippen Rookie was going for around $500. This was back in Feb/March of 2020. Now only 2 months later, these are going for $2000. 4x within a few months. And if you go back a few years, a mint Pippen Rookie was even less at a few hundreds.
1992 Topps Shaquille O’Neal Rookie PSA 10 – $435
This is one that many of you will have in your shoebox or closet. Back in the day, Topps packs and boxes were dirt cheap and you found O’Neal rookies nearly ever pack. However, they have been going up in value big time over the last few years. A mint condition PSA 10 rookie now goes for over $400 dollars and the gold version of this over $1200! Even a non-graded car goes for $15.
1998 Topps Vince Carter PSA 10 – $400
Vince Carter hasn’t retired yet but this will be his final year. It’s amazing the longevity of this guy. However, his rookies started to take off this year. Just like Shaq, even a base Topps rookie with mint condition is going for $400! A few months ago, these were under $200 a few years ago these were under $100. Pretty explosive growth.
And these few are just the tip of the iceberg. The explosion in price can be found with many retired and active players.
Sports cards are here to stay and not only are they great collectibles but basketball cards are now becoming one of the best investments you can make. Sports cards to me is a form of art collecting. Cards are priceless to some and most collectors hold on to their collection forever. With interest in sports cards building and supply decreasing, the upper limits of prices for sports cards are limitless.
If you are interested in learning more about sports cards, check out the tips from this article 7 Ways to Capitalize on Sport Cards.
Also make sure you subscribe to me on my YouTube Channel. I will soon be posting videos on the latest pickups and talk about trends that I see with basketball cards.