In the past few months, I have been thinking more about the historical context of sports and buying some of the legends from the past.  As a follow up to my baseball and football posts from a few weeks ago, I wanted to perform a similar assessment for basketball cards.

Below you will see 10 cards of players who can make a reasonable case for being one of the top 25 basketball players of all-time.  In creating this list, I tried to find graded cards that had an eBay buy it now price of $100 or less.  I wanted to stick with graded items, as raw cards for the players and eras with which we are dealing in this exercise can vary wildly.  While the list does include one rookie, the cards you see included are mostly lower grade.  Obviously, high graded items for the stars we are talking about can get cost prohibitive in a hurry.  The goal is to identify options for acquiring a card of one of the all-time greats without spending the equivalent of a mortgage payment or raiding your kid’s college fund.

Michael Jordan

1993-94 Topps Gold #23

Grade: PSA 9

eBay Buy It Now: $85

“Air Jordan’s” accomplishments are numerous, and most commentators rank him as one of the top two or three players to ever lace up sneakers in the NBA.  Interestingly, although he retired for the final time in 2003, Jordan is not fading away.  The ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” chronicling his final season with the Bulls was wildly popular, and if you go to your local Foot Locker, the iconic Jumpman logo is everywhere.  Fleer is the default brand for basketball collectors of Jordan’s era, and the 1990-91 in PSA 9 is the earliest Jordan Fleer card that sells consistently for less than $100.

While there is nothing wrong with adding the 1990-91 Fleer Jordan to your collection, do not ignore that after a decade-long break, Topps started making basketball cards again for the 1992-93 season.  With Fanatics primed to start making Topps basketball cards again in the next five years, I would anticipate renewed collector interest in Topps, and Jordan Topps cards in particular.  Unfortunately, Jordan’s first Topps card features a horrible under the basket photo in which his face is partially hidden.  For this reason, I would focus on his second year Topps edition.  This is a beautiful card featuring a white boarder and a close-up photo of Jordan completing one of his signature slam dunks.  

There are regular and gold versions of the 1993-94 Topps card, and in PSA 9 condition, both routinely sell for less than $100.

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