10 of the Most Expensive Basketball Trading Cards
10 of the Most Expensive Basketball Trading Cards
In the world of sports, many different trading cards are going around. There are a few classic and rare football and baseball cards, but people tend to underestimate the worth of basketball cards. Collectors are still trading these valuable cards like hotcakes, and their value is shooting through the roof. Read on to learn more about 10 of the most expensive basketball trading cards of all time!
1980-1981 Topps Scoring Leader Card
Last year, this card sold for $840,000 at the Goldin Auctions. There are many scoring leader cards from Topps, but what makes this one stand out from the rest are the featured players—Larry Bird, Julius Erving, and Magic Johnson. Looking back, these players are some of the best players of all time, but when this card got released, they were mostly newcomers. Erving was an established player, but Bird and Johnson were both relatively new, making this card stand out against every other card from Topps.
2002-2003 Upper Deck Kobe Bryant Autograph Logoman
Goldin Auctions is the hotspot of trading cards, and this card sold last year for nearly a million dollars, coming in at a clean $922,500. Many debate that Bryant could be the best or second only to Michael Jordan. Any rare Kobe Bryant card would inevitably sell well, but Upper Deck cards have an additional premium attached since they include the player’s autograph. This 2002-2003 card is Bryant’s first Logoman from the start of his professional career, making it more valuable than some newer cards. This card also has a Beckett Grading Service (BGS) rating of 9, meaning the card is also of the highest quality.
2013-2014 Panini Prizm Giannis Antetokounmpo Black Mosaic Rookie Card
One of the newer players that has been getting more popular in the last few years is Giannis Antetokounmpo, and that popularity and skill mean their older cards are becoming worth more. Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to win the 2021 NBA championship, but even before this point, his older cards started to rake in some money. In 2020, his 2013-2014 Panini Prizm Black Mosaic rookie card sold for $1,140,000, making it the first card on this list to pass a million. There is only one copy of the card, adding to its popularity, but the quality is also excellent, coming in with a BGS rating of 9.5.
2004-2005 Upper Deck Lebron James Ultimate Signature Logoman
In the upper echelon of basketball greats, you can’t forget about Lebron James. In the last two decades, James has continually transformed how basketball gets played and continues to wow on the court. With this talent comes some pretty expensive cards, and this one sold last year for $1,291,500. Logoman released this one-of-a-kind card in James' sophomore season, and it will likely only grow in value as the player continues to do great things before their inevitable retirement. Part of what makes this card so valuable is that it is also a PSA 10, something increasingly difficult to find in the world of trading cards.
1996-1997 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Refractor Rookie Card
A common trend with these cards is that rookie cards tend to be some of the most valuable, which is still true with this $1,795,000 card. Many basketball greats had quiet first seasons, but Kobe Bryant was not one of them. Drafted right out of high school, Bryant quickly became the star of the Los Angeles Lakers for the next 20 years. Bryant is one of the NBA greats, and this card highlights the start of all that. In addition, it’s a BGS 10 Black Label, and it’s a refractor card, giving it a little extra oomph over other cards.
2013-2014 National Treasure Giannis Antetokounmpo Horizontal Rookie Patch Autograph
This card, sold in 2020, is Giannis Antetokounmpo’s most expensive card, selling at $1,812,000 by Goldin Auctions. What makes this card more valuable than his other card from the same season is that this one comes with an autograph and the rookie patch.
Another factor that makes these Antetokounmpo cards valuable is that he’s a special player. He played in the Greek basketball league for two years before being the Milwaukee Bucks’ 15th pick in the 2013 draft. That season he became one of the youngest NBA players of all time, playing his first game a month or two shy of his 19th birthday. With all that, he has quickly become one of the best players in the last 10 years, and it will be interesting to see where he goes in the next decade.
1997-1998 Upper Deck Michael Jordan All-Star Game Used Jersey Card
The last cards were in the million-dollar range, but there is a big jump to this Michael Jordan card, which sold for $2.7 million in October of 2021. This card has high value because it’s Michael Jordan, but another reason it’s valued so highly is that it comes with a piece of his jersey that he wore to the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. This jersey honored the 50th anniversary of the NBA, and he became the first player in the league’s history to record a triple-double at this game. It’s a monumental feat but not enough to become the most valuable Jordan card of all time.
2018-2019 Panini National Treasure Luka Dončić Logoman Autograph Rookie Card
One player who hasn’t appeared on this list yet and is a newer entry to the NBA is Luka Dončić. Dončić is from Slovenia, and after playing basketball there for some years, he got drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 2018. He would later get traded to the Dallas Mavericks, where he would make a name for himself. Dončić won rookie of the year in the 2018-2019 season, and it’s the card from this year that sold for $4.6 million in a private sale. Another interesting thing about this card is that it sold for that much without even getting graded!
2003-2004 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Rookie Patch Autograph
Lebron James’ $5.2 million card is only in second place, but it is still a hefty amount that no one should scoff at. James made his NBA debut in 2003 and has gone on to do amazing things for the league, and became the first active NBA player to reach a net worth of a billion dollars. Even outside of the world of basketball, people know Lebron James.
2009-2010 Panini National Treasures Stephen Curry Logoman Autograph Rookie Card
This is Stephen Curry’s first entry on the list, and the number one expensive card, selling for $5.9 million in a private sale. Curry is one of the newer players in the last decade that rocketed to the top of the league and has shown no signs of slowing down. With his autograph alone, this rookie card would be valuable, but it’s also a PSA 10. It’s the most valuable basketball trading card and one of the most expensive sports cards ever.
These are some of the most expensive basketball trading cards, but their sale is relatively infrequent. Once collectors get their hands on these cards, they tend to stay out of circulation for a while. You’ll have a tough time getting your hand on these cards, but there are still so many card packs just waiting for you to open. At JRI Cards, we even have basketball box breaks, so you can join others and get your cards opened live in front of other vintage basketball card fans!