As a sports fan who grew up in the 1980s and 90s, I had the privilege of watching the careers of Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky.  These men were two of the most prolific athletes in history, and seeing their legacies unfold is a touchstone for most sports fans of my generation.

Jordan won six NBA championships and five NBA Most Valuable Player awards.  He was named the 20th century’s greatest North American athlete by ESPN in 1999.  Gretzky won nine Hart Trophies and four Stanley Cups.  He is the NHL’s career leader in goals, assists and total points.

From a sports card collecting perspective, a significant chunk of Jordan and Gretzky’s playing days coincided with the junk wax era.  While this means that most Jordan and Gretzky cards are easy to track down because of the massive print runs of the time, it also means that the vast majority of the cards for these legends are not particularly valuable.  In response to this, collectors are starting to rediscover inserts, subsets and parallels released in the 1990s.  Consistent with the times, these cards have distinct, colorful designs and were frequently difficult to find in packs, making them more appealing to collectors prioritizing rarity.  

Below are some of my favorite non-base Jordan and Gretzky cards from the 1990s.  For fun I included pricing, pack odds and population information.  Good luck hunting for these!

1997 Fleer E-X2001


Named after the American Creole and Cajun rice dish, this oval cut card offers no shortage of dazzling foil.  The odds of pulling this Jordan were 1:10,800 packs, so this is a ridiculously scarce card.  Jordan Jambalaya cards do not come to market frequently, as many are vaulted away in personal collections.  However, when they do sell, even PSA 9 copies can fetch in excess of $30,000.

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