Basketball is a global sport, and the best players are seen worldwide as icons. In addition, the larger than life personalities of NBA superstars have made them some of the most famous athletes in the world.
The NBA has become one of the most-watched sports leagues in the United States.
With this rise, we’ve seen the level of fandom and appreciation rise as well, and one of the biggest benefactors is the basketball card market. Basketball cards are highly coveted today; the right rookie card or signature can be the difference between $70 and $750,000.
Today we’re jumping into the most expensive basketball cards ever. No need for opinions of which one is better than the other; we’re going straight to the numbers. Of course, I’ll explain why these players’ cards are considered the most expensive basketball card in the hobby today.
2009 Stephen Curry National Treasures Logoman Autograph Rookie Card
He’s the greatest shooter of all time. Whether you love it or hate it, Stephen Curry is one of the most influential basketball players ever. His style of play has transformed how coaches from the NBA to the youth level teach the game. Pushing himself into all-time great status by breaking the all-time record for 3-pointers made in a career, winning his 4th NBA Championship and his first NBA Finals MVP, the 8-Time NBA All-Star has proven to be one of the best players ever and one of the most popular players.
Stephen Curry’s impact and popularity showed themselves in a big way when his “ultra-rare” signed rookie card was sold privately. The Stephen Curry National Treasures Logoman Autograph Rookie Card is a one-of-one. And the National Treasures brand is heralded as the high-end product in the sports card hobby; coupling those two factors with a signed rookie card from a guaranteed hall-of-fame basketball player makes for one very expensive sports card.
July 2021, this card sold for a record $5.9million breaking the previous record set by the LeBron James Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Rookie Card months prior, making it the most expensive basketball card in history and one of the most expensive sports trading cards sold as well.
2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Rookie Patch Autograph AU/23 #78
Not many players in any sport could come in with the expectations and pressure that LeBron James had to come in with and live up to that hype. LeBron James is arguably the best basketball player ever. The 18-time NBA All-Star, 4-Time NBA Champion, and 2-Time NBA MVP has achieved almost everything possible and in his 20th season, he is expected to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most career points scored by a player in league history. Iconic.
Everything LeBron James touches turns to money, from shoes to movies, and nothing is different regarding basketball cards. LeBron James Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Rookie Card is another member of the basketball card holy grail as one of the most valuable basketball cards in history. The rookie patch autograph card features an image of a young LeBron seemingly bringing the ball up the court and surveying the floor.
But how valuable are we talking? In April 2021, PWCC Marketplace held an auction for this prized card that sold for $5.2 million.
2018-19 Panini National Treasures Luka Dončić Logoman Autograph Rookie Card #127
Normally, it takes a little bit of time before players are considered superstars; Luka Doncic, however, is an exception to the rule. The 23-year-old point guard has been playing professional basketball overseas since he was 16, so his skill level and experience have always been there.
Luka’s popularity and potential to be the greatest international NBA player ever has basketball card collectors doing all they can to add an autograph card or memorabilia card of his to their personal collection.
Luka Doncic’s impact and popularity as an international player showed themselves in a big way when this ultra rare signed rookie card was sold at auction. The Luka Doncic’s Panini National Treasures Rookie Card is the newest card on our list selling privately for $4.6million.
1997-98 Upper Deck Michael Jordan All Star Game Used Jersey
The greatest basketball player ever. For those who say LeBron, tough luck. Michael Jordan took the game to new heights upon his arrival, and after a dominant career finishing top 5 in the most career points scored by a player in league history, 6 NBA Championships in 6 appearances, including 6 Finals MVPs, when he retired he left the game as the unquestioned greatest.
The impact that Michael Jordan has on basketball culture is still present today, which is why basketball card collectors are still hunting anything with his signature or patch on it. As for the Michael Jordan Upper Deck Game Used Jersey may not be considered the “best” card (insert the 1986 Fleer) featuring the GOAT, but it’s definitely the most valuable to date, selling for a $2.6 million brokered by Goldin Auctions.
2013-14 National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Horizontal Rookie Patch Autograph #130
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s career has been one of the fairytales over the last 20 years. Giannis wasn’t expected to be one of the best players of a generation but earning the honor of NBA Champion, NBA MVP, and NBA Defensive Player of the Year has shocked the world and has inserted himself into conversations along the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Panini National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph sits on our list as one of the most expensive basketball cards ever. With its excellent condition, the patch and signature of a young Giannis serve as a transformation picture from the skinny guy that entered the league to one of the most intimidating forces today.
Cracking seven figures In December 2020, Goldin Auctions brokered the sale of this card for $1,812,000.
1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Refractor Rookie Card #138
Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba. What else needs to be said describing one of the fiercest competitors and all-time greats? The late and great Kobe Bryant dominated the National Basketball Association for years, racking up records, championships, and MVPs.
Kobe Bryant’s Topps rookie card is in perfect condition receiving the highest possible grade by Beckett Grading Services, the BGS 10 Black Label. Thanks to the greatness he displayed and how much he was beloved as an athlete and person in the basketball community, Kobe Bryant’s rookie card deserves to be one of the most valuable cards in the basketball card market. It’s also unique because it’s the only card that doesn’t have a signature or patch.
The 1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Refractor Rookie Card sold for $1,795,000 in March by Goldin Auctions.
That’s it for us and the most expensive football cards. If you’re looking for a space to expand your collection, hop on the Loupe app today! Collect your favorites on the hardwood from stars of today like LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo to past all-time greats like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant. Sign up and join the community to get free Loupe credits on your first purchase!