Check out this list of the most expensive basketball cards on the market today, with prices ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
The Most Expensive Basketball Cards
If you’re a basketball fan, collector, or even just an invested observer of the history of the game, then you already know how much these cards can mean. Basketball cards have been around since before most of Generation X and Y were born, with some dating as far back as 1910.
But over time, some basketball card values have skyrocketed due to their rarity – resulting in a few being taken up for auction and fetching extremely high prices that go well into five figures.
For those passionate fans out there who come from all walks of life and care about collecting more than anything else – here are some of the most expensive basketball cards that exist today.
What Are Basketball Cards?
Basketball cards are physical objects that contain photos, statistics, and brief biographical information about the players on them. The card itself typically shows a simple image of the player in their team’s uniform along with their name, position, height, and weight.
Back when they were first introduced to the market in the late 19th century, basketball cards were mostly given away in packs of cigarettes, bubble gum, and other products.
Nowadays, basketball cards are seen as collector’s items – with some ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on their rarity and condition.
The Most Expensive Basketball Cards Today
When it comes to the most expensive basketball cards being sold today, these are among the most coveted:
#1 Stephen Curry Autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie Card
Price: $5.9 Million (July 6, 2021)
Alt, an alternative asset platform, has acquired a 51% stake in Stephen Curry’s autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie Card, valued at $5.9 million. Despite being graded a PSA 8, Curry’s autograph on the card is rated a Gem Mint 10, the highest grade by PSA.
Not only has Stephen Curry earned numerous accolades, but he now also holds the record for the most expensive basketball card ever sold. The one-of-a-kind 2009-10 Stephen Curry Autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie card was sold for $5.9 million in July 2021, making it the second most valuable sports card after Honus Wagner’s $6.6 million baseball card.
What makes this card truly exceptional is its unique status as a one-of-a-kind autographed Logoman card. It represents the beginning of the Golden State Warriors dynasty, during which they won four NBA Championships in eight years. Stephen Curry’s incredible three-point shooting skills propelled him past Ray Allen to become the NBA’s all-time three-point leader, accomplishing this feat in just 789 games, a remarkable 511 games less than Allen.
Beyond its rarity and record-breaking price, this card stands as a testament to Curry’s greatness on the court. It solidifies his status as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
The 2009 Playoff National Treasures Basketball set is renowned for revolutionizing the basketball card market. Released by Panini during their debut season with exclusive NBA trading cards, this set quickly became a cornerstone for top-level basketball rookie cards. As a result, the Stephen Curry rookie card has become the ultimate prize for collectors and investors alike.
#2 LeBron James Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Rookie Card #78
Price Range: $2 million to $5 million
Highest Sale Price: $5.2 million (April 26, 2021)
With its rarity and incredible value, this card has captivated collectors and investors alike.
Breaking records within days of its base version selling for $1.7 million, the 2003 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Parallel Rookie Patch Autograph AU/23 #78 stands as the third most expensive sports card on the market. Featuring a patch from James’ rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, this card is one of only 23 in existence.
In April 2021, a private sale by PWCC reached a staggering $5.2 million, marking the second-highest price ever paid for a basketball card. Its impeccable condition, graded BGS 9 with subgrades of 10 for centering and surface, 9.5 for edges, and 8.5 for corners, elevates its value.
More recently in June 2022, another copy of this card fetched an astonishing $2.1 million. With a BGS condition report rating it 9.5 for centering, 8 for corners, 9.5 for edges, and 9.5 for surface, this card is numbered 12/23 and boasts a Beckett 10 signature grade, with an overall BGS grade of 8.5.
Previously, in July 2020, the card numbered 14/23 and graded BGS 9.5 was sold for $1.8 million, setting a world record for a modern sports card at the time. As interest in collecting and investing in sports continues to rise, this card is expected to appreciate.
LeBron James’ remarkable career and impact on and off the court has solidified him as an icon in the sports world. This Exquisite Collection rookie card offers a rare opportunity to own a piece of history from his legendary rookie season.
Selected as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James has emerged as one of the greatest players of all time. With numerous accolades to his name, including Rookie of the Year, 17-time All-Star, four-time MVP, and four-time NBA champion, James has left an indelible mark on the game.
The 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection rookie patch autograph card, serial-numbered 23, pays homage to James’ iconic number throughout his career. Its limited production and high demand make it a sought-after item among collectors.
Overall, the Upper Deck Exquisite Collection cards are incredibly rare, with limited production and a price of $500 per box. The scarcity of cards from this collection, particularly LeBron James Exquisite cards, further adds to their value and desirability.
Although it may no longer hold the top spot, the LeBron James Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Rookie card #78 remains a symbol of his meteoric rise to superstardom. Owning this card allows enthusiasts to possess a tangible piece of his enduring legacy.
#3 Luka Dončić Autographed Panini National Treasures Card
Price: $4.6 Million (February 28, 2021)
Witness the history-making sale of Luka Dončić’s autographed rookie card, a true collector’s gem. On his 22nd birthday, February 28, 2021, this one-of-a-kind card fetched an astonishing $4.6 million. It claimed the title of the most expensive basketball card ever sold until the record was later broken by a LeBron James rookie card.
Originally acquired by collector Bolillo Lajan San, this exclusive Dončić card became the talk of the town when it was sold to esteemed collector Nick Fiorella for a record-setting $4.6 million. Its value and rarity were undeniable.
However, in November 2022, at another auction, the card was sold for $3.1 million. While still an impressive sum, it marked a significant drop from its previous sales. Yet, its uniqueness persists, as it remains the only one of its kind ever produced, adding to its rarity and allure.
Seasoned basketball card collectors rave about the 2018-19 Panini National Treasures cards, considering them among the scarcest and most sought-after collectibles. A pack containing 10 cards, once easily obtainable at retail price, has now become a precious commodity in the secondary market, commanding prices of $4,500 or more.
What cements the high value of this card is the undeniable star power of Luka Dončić. As one of the NBA’s brightest talents, Dončić’s meteoric rise from a young European phenom to an NBA sensation is unparalleled. During his rookie season, he astounded fans with his remarkable statistics, averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists, ultimately earning him the prestigious 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year award.
Notably, it is a rarity for an ungraded card to fetch such an astronomical price. Several factors contributed to this remarkable sale. Firstly, the card’s unparalleled rarity sets it apart and increases its monetary value, even without an official grading. Additionally, it was sold as part of an exclusive private collection, adding to its desirability and intrigue.
Nevertheless, controversy surrounds this valuable sports card. Handwriting experts have questioned the authenticity of Luka Dončić’s signature, suggesting that it may have been his mother’s doing. This adds a touch of mystery for potential investors seeking to add this extraordinary card to their collections.
#4 1997 Upper Deck Game Jerseys Michael Jordan #GJ13S Basketball Card
Price Range: $1.4 million to $3 million
Highest Sale Price: $2.7 million (October 2021)
Michael Jordan, the man renowned as the greatest basketball player of all time, has conquered not only the sport but also the realms of movies and documentaries. However, when it comes to the priciest basketball cards, he falls to fourth place. Nonetheless, there’s no denying the allure of this particular card.
What sets apart the 1997 Upper Deck Game Jerseys Michael Jordan #GJ13S is its exclusivity. Only 23 cards were ever produced, making it an incredibly rare and sought-after piece in the world of professional basketball card collecting. On top of that, Jordan’s autograph takes center stage, elevating its appeal even more.
In an October 2021 private sale, this card, specifically numbered 6/23 and boasting a BGS 8 grade, was sold for an astounding $2.7 million. This incredible transaction shattered a previous record set by Goldin Auctions. Although the identities of the seller and buyer remain unknown, reliable sources like ESPN have confirmed the authenticity of the sale.
Despite MJ’s stellar career and unmatched achievements, his most expensive basketball card falls short in comparison to others. Nonetheless, the 1997-98 Upper Deck Michael Jordan All-Star Game Used Jersey #GJ13S holds its place as one of the most highly coveted cards on the market, capturing the hearts of fans and investors alike.
This remarkable card showcases a jersey worn by Michael Jordan during the 1997 NBA All-Star Game, a moment in history where he became the first player ever to achieve a triple-double. It pays tribute to the NBA’s 50th anniversary, adding further significance to its value. With its serial number limited to 23, just like LeBron’s RPA, this iconic card stands as Jordan’s most valuable basketball card to date.
#5 LeBron James Rookie Card
Price: $2.46 million (October 24, 2021)
Own a piece of basketball history with this highly sought-after LeBron James Rookie Card from the 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection. Graded BGS NM-MT+ 8.5 and limited to only 99 in existence, this card features an authentic rookie patch autograph from the NBA superstar.
Recently sold at an unforgettable auction hosted by Goldin Auctions on October 24, 2021, this exquisite piece is a true collector’s gem.
#6 2020 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman LeBron James Patch Card
Price: $2.4 million (June 2022)
Behold the unparalleled 2020 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman #3LG-LBJ LeBron James Patch Card. This extraordinary card showcases Logoman patches from three game-used LeBron James jerseys representing his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and LA Lakers. Its unique serial number of 1/1 sets it apart from the rest.
Since the release of the 2020 Panini Flawless Basketball, this card has captivated collectors and investors alike. Notable figures, like Drake, have even participated in multiple case openings in hopes of finding it. Finally, in May 2022, the Flawless Triple Logoman LeBron James card surfaced during a group break thanks to Backyard Breaks.
Out of the five Triple Logoman cards featured in the 2020 Flawless checklist, this LeBron James card stands alone. It is the only one to showcase three patches from a single player, making it truly exclusive.
The significance of this card reaches beyond its rarity and visual appeal. It holds a prestigious position in the hobby and is often referred to as the “Golden Ticket.” As the only Triple Logoman in the release to feature a single player, this LeBron James card sets a new standard for modern-day cards. Its authenticity is guaranteed by the manufacturer, with a statement on the card serving as its Certificate of Authenticity (COA).
With its limited edition status as “1/1,” the 2020 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman #3LG-LBJ LeBron James Patch Card has garnered significant attention and fetched a staggering price of $2.4 million when sold through Goldin in June 2022. It represents the epitome of exclusivity, making it a highly coveted piece for collectors and investors.
LeBron James once again breaks records, this time achieving the highest sale price for a card pulled and sold within the same year. The limited-edition 2020-21 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman patch card fetched an astounding $2.4 million at a Goldin Auction.
Featuring three NBA logo patches from his Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and LA Lakers jerseys, this one-of-a-kind card caught the attention of Drake, who purchased 14 boxes for over $200,000 in a quest for the ultimate treasure, which Goldin founder Ken Goldin describes as the “undisputed holy grail of modern cards.”
#7 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Kobe Bryant Emerald #81
Price: $2 million (February 2022)
Breaking records and captivating collectors, the 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Kobe Bryant Emerald #81 has made waves in the world of sports memorabilia. In a historic sale, this card fetched an astounding $2 million through the PWCC marketplace in February 2022, cementing its status as a highly coveted collectible.
The rarity and appeal of this card are due to its unique design and limited production. Only ten copies of the Emerald variation and 90 red variations were ever printed. This scarcity, combined with the card’s sensitivity to condition, adds to its desirability as it is difficult to find one in perfect condition.
Kobe Bryant, a legendary player and 18-time NBA All-Star, won five championships during his illustrious 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 1997-98 Metal Emerald card, with its 8.5 grade, showcases its outstanding condition. This card’s design revolutionized the approach to insert-style cards, making it highly regarded by collectors and experts as one of Kobe Bryant’s best cards, surpassing even his rookie cards or autographs.
Precious Metal Gems variants are considered some of the most sought-after insert cards worldwide, setting the standard for future insert markets. While finding them in any condition is challenging, discovering one in excellent condition is incredibly rare and valuable.
Tragically, the untimely passing of Kobe Bryant has only heightened the demand for this card. It is a bittersweet reminder of his lasting impact on the sport and the deep emotional connection fans have with him. This card has seen a staggering 600% increase in value, serving as a testament to Kobe Bryant’s enduring legacy and his status as a basketball legend.
#8 2013 National Treasures Horizontal #130 Giannis Antetokounmpo NBA Logoman Autograph Patch Rookie Card
Price: $1,857,300 (September 2020)
This one-of-a-kind card features a full and rich blue ink signature from Giannis Antetokounmpo himself, accompanied by a unique one-of-one limited edition serial number.
Not only is this card a rare find, but it also set a new record for the most expensive basketball card sold in September 2020. It fetched an astounding $1,857,300 through Goldin Auctions, surpassing the previous record held by the 2003 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Patch Autograph LeBron James card.
Rated by Beckett Grading Services (BGS), this card boasts an impressive condition with ratings of 9.5 for Centering, 8.5 for Corners, 9.5 for Edges, and 9 for Surface. On the back of the card, you’ll find verified text from Panini America, Inc., confirming both the authenticity of the signature and the genuineness of the patch.
While it’s important to note that this card has been surpassed as the most expensive basketball card, currently ranking seventh on the list, it remains an iconic and valuable piece in any basketball card collection.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, born in Greece to Nigerian parents, has established himself as one of the greatest European players and power forwards of all time. With his NBA Championship and Finals MVP titles in 2021, he has solidified his spot among the basketball elite. This Logoman Autograph card is truly a representation of his incredible career.
Remember, Giannis Antetokounmpo has other rookie cards, but none hold the same value and rarity as this Logoman Autograph card.
#9 1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Refractor Rookie Card #138
Price: $1,795,800 (March 6, 2021)
This limited edition card made waves in the sports card market, surpassing all others to become the most expensive Lakers legend card of its time. Is it an auction price tag? A staggering $1.8 million, shattering records in March 2021.
What makes this card truly exceptional is its condition. With a BGS 10 Black Label grade, it achieved perfection, a distinction bestowed upon only two out of the 300+ submissions. The buyer’s identity remains a mystery, adding to the intrigue.
Interestingly, the passing of Kobe Bryant in January 2020 sparked a surge in the value of his cards, skyrocketing by a reported 600%. To put it in perspective, this very same card previously sold for just $58,100 on eBay in March 2016. The exponential rise in value is undeniable.
This card continues to command attention in recent auctions. In the April 2023 Goldin Auctions, a gem mint copy fetched an impressive $102,000. And in August 2022, Heritage Auctions saw another gem mint copy sell for a whopping $156,000.
As one of Kobe Bryant’s rookie cards, the 1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Refractor Rookie Card holds coveted status among collectors. Its impeccable condition and increasing value over time have solidified its position as a truly prized and valuable basketball card.
To wrap up, collecting basketball cards can be a hobby filled with value, rarity, and fun. But the 9 most expensive basketball cards on this list provide another level of thrill – the potential for great resale value.
When deciding whether to purchase a card from this exclusive list or stick to collecting more affordable basketball cards, consider building up those collections over time as a way to get your hands on some of these ultra-valuable gems.
While these rare items continue to offer higher returns on investment, many collectors treat them not only as investments but also as works of art – immortalizing Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant forever.
So if you’re looking for an exciting and valuable hobby that pays off in the long run – jump right into it with one of these 9 most expensive basketball cards!
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