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Top 10 Most Valuable Basketball Cards

By Edited Apr 24, 2016 3 7

The most valuable basketball cards while not in the same league price-wise as other vintage sports cards are coming on strong for those who collect these cardboard depictions of hardwood heroes. Prices are soaring in the last decade for the Top 10 Most Valuable Basketball Cards. As in baseball and football cards, generally, a non-partisan third-party grader authenticates the most expensive basketball cards (usually this is Professional Sports Authority (PSA) or Sportscard Guaranty LLC (SGC)).

Below are some of the most sought after basketball cards that the world has to offer. Some are true superstars from great sets while others are lesser-known players from a scarce set or in unusually good condition. Rookies, Hall of Famers, or no names there are many factors contribute to the price of a card: scarcity, demand, condition, cross-appeal, and player. When all of these factors coincide--lookout wallet! Whether you are interested in purchasing one of the most expensive basketball cards, if you sell basketball cards online , or are just curious about the most expensive basketball cards in the world than this list will keep you on the pulse of the high-end vintage basketball card market. Now, without further delay:

Top 10 Most Valuable Basketball Cards:

Johnson - Bird - Sikma
10) Johnson / Bird / Sikma –1980 Topps BVG 10 $10,000

It is rare in any sport for a multi-player card to reach the top-tiers of pricing. The much maligned 1980 Topps set has found favor with collectors in recent years. Larry Bird is featured on a more famous card with Magic Johnson and Dr. J, but even that card of three Hall of Famers falls a bit short of the price commanded by Marques, Larry and Jack. This beauty in top shape reached a cool $10,000. Pity the poor Jack Sikma fan that is trying to find a high-grade issue!!

9) Lew Alcindor – 1969 Topps PSA 9 $10,100

Before he was Kareem, Lew was already tearing up the courts with his famous skyhook shot. This legendary rookie card depicts the future all-time scoring leader as a young Milwaukee center.

8) Larry Foust -- 1957 Topps PSA 9 $10,500

The rookie card of Foust is a combination of star player, great condition and widely collected set. Along with Holman, he is probably the most obscure on the list to the average fan. The beloved 1957 Topps set along with the 1961 Fleer are the only two sets to place more than one card on the Top 10 list.

1970 Topps Pete Maravich
7) Pete Maravich – 1970 Topps PSA 10 $18,000

Pistol Pete was a true star on every level. He practically re-defined offense on the collegiate level averaging an incredible 44 plus points a game over his entire college career! Maravich's shocking death at the young age of 40 from a previously unknown heart condition has deprived many people from learning from this legend.

6) Wilt Chamberlain – 1961 Fleer PSA 10 $20,400

Larger than life both on and off the court, this true giant of the game remains the only player to ever score an unbelievable 100 points in a game. The iconic 1961 Fleer set boast two cards that are considered among the basketball elite – Chamberlain and Robertson. A perfect grade 10 for this Chamberlain suites him – a tall price for a tall man!!

5) Nat Holman – 1933 Goudey Sport Kings PSA 8 $24,900

While Holman is a basketball Hall of Famer, he is definitely not a household name. A true innovator, this card primarily breaks into the list due to cross-appeal. The 1933 Goudey Sport Kings set included baseball players like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, football heroes like Red Grange, boxers like Jack Dempsey and various other athletes. It is a widely collected set and Holman finds demand among even non-basketball card fans all in the name of completing this issue.

4) Bill Russell -- 1957 Topps SGC 96 $25,200

The Celtic legend will live forever in the minds of Boston fans as the driving force behind the Celtic Dynasty. Absolute star-of-stars, the lanky center was known for his shot blocking and rebounding. He finished with 11 championships to his credit. 1957 was a good year for Topps as history has ended up with both the Russell card and the 1957 Topps Football card of Johnny Unitas as being among the Top 10 Most Valuable in their respective sports.

1961 Fleer Oscar Robertson
3) Oscar Robertson –1961 Fleer PSA10 $25.800

The only man to average a triple-double for an entire season! Legendary Hall of Fame guard Robertson is depicted on the Cincinnati Royals card from Fleer. Like Jordan, Russell, Mikan and Chamberlain also on this list, Robertson ranks among the Top 50 NBA All-Time Stars. This card's value stems from the tried and true formula star player in absolute mint condition plus widely collected set equals astounding price.

2) Michael Jordan – 1986 Fleer BVG 10 $82,000

1986 Fleer Michael Jordan

Nothing is left to say about the man on the card. Arguably the greatest player to ever take the court. The cross-appeal of Jordan is tremendous and add in foreign collectors and you have an amazingly sought after card. This Fleer issue is exceptionally rare in the absolute top tier condition. It is amazing that more perfect 10s do not surface since it was widely available and only 25 years old, but they simply do not. PSA/SGC rival Beckett Vintage Grading grades this one and they are a major party on the grading circuit. It will be interesting to see how much closer the top grade Jordan cards approach Mikan in the next 50 years. It is unusual for this Chicago Bulls legend to take a back seat to anyone, but he remains firmly planted at number two. Fair warning, like the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, this card is a favorite target for counterfeiters. Unless you are an expert, buying a third party graded issue is strongly recommended.

1) George Mikan -- 1948 Bowman PSA 10 $218,500

1948 Bowman George Mikan

Without a doubt, this is the Holy Grail of the basketball card world. The color 1948 Bowman set would be their only basketball issue and the only basketball set to reach mainstream collectors until 1957 when Topps issued their first set. Bespectacled gentle giant Mikan was a truly pioneering legend of the game. This Hall of Fame player finds his way onto list after list of NBA All-Time Greats. This rookie card in absolute perfect condition fetched a near quarter million dollars at auction.

While the most expensive basketball cards are only a fraction of the prices commanded by the Top 10 Most Valuable Baseball Cards, many compare favorably to the Top 10 Most Valuable Football Cards and the Top 10 Most Valuable Hockey Cards and generally crush the Most Valuable Golf Cards! It is a proud collector that owns any of these gems. Graded cards are most in demand for those who buy basketball cards and sell basketball cards. So, if you are lucky enough to have one of these cards it might be worth the cost to have it graded. Graded basketball cards command strong prices and can far exceed the prices shown in Beckett basketball price guides. As basketball continues to rise in popularity and dominate the airwaves, expect prices for graded basketball cards to rise steadily.



Jun 25, 2010 8:59am
Are you sure that is the correct Johnson for the #10 card? The side comment makes is sound like someone is referring to Magic and not Marques?? Lots of other good info. though.
Jun 25, 2010 10:55am
Thank you such much for noticing!! When the Johnson/Bird/Sikma card edged out the Magic/Bird/Erving card, I changed the photo and title but forgot to change the description. The Magic/Bird combo fetched just shy of $9000, but the Marques Johnson/Bird/Sikma card has it beaten...for the moment! I have now made the correction.
Jan 17, 2011 7:57pm
I own number two not in good condition but fair.
May 29, 2011 1:46am
This was fascinating, it really sucked me into the world of the collector =)
Mar 28, 2013 6:07pm
Do you mind if I link this to my NBA article?
Mar 4, 2014 6:32am
My goodness, I had no idea the kind of money these cards fetch - particularly for Michael Jordan's (being only 25 years old). Seems more lucrative than coin collecting. Thank you for such an eye-opener.
Mar 4, 2014 6:54am
This is a great "evergreen" piece, and I never get tired of looking at those cards. Thumbin'.
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