Basketball cards have spiked in value over the past couple of years. While these cards were invented in the early 20th century, they only gained popularity in the 90s. So, why are they still so costly right now?
Basketball cards are primarily expensive because of the sport’s popularity. While there was no action in basketball a decade ago, new talented players have joined the league and made the game exciting. The card’s rarity, associated player’s performance, and autograph also contribute to its price.
This article looks at basketball cards and why they’re so expensive. Keep reading to find out if they’re worth the huge investment.
What Are Basketball Cards?
Basketball cards (also known as NBA cards) are collectible trading cards associated with basketball. The cards are made of plastic or silicon and feature one or more players from the NBA, WNBA, NCAA, and other basketball leagues.
The first set of basketball cards was produced in the 1910s and was cataloged as the “College Athlete Feltz B-33.” This early set included different sports and only 30 cards were basketball-related. However, more series continued to be developed until there were basketball-exclusive cards.
In the basketball cards heyday (the 90s), most cards were made by Bowman Gum and Topps. Nowadays, most cards are made by the Panini Group, which has the sole license from the NBA.
Why Are They So Valuable?
It’s amazing to think that people are willing to pay millions of dollars for a pack of collector cards. That’s the case with NBA cards which can sell for more than $5 million. So why are they so expensive?
1. Soaring Popularity
In the early 2010s, there was nothing exciting happening in the world of basketball. Veteran players were aging and new players were not exceptionally talented. This drove many casual fans away from the sport and into more popular sports at the time like football.
Fortunately, basketball has regained its adrenaline effect in the past couple of years with the injection of fresh talent like Luca Doncic and Zion Williamson. This has brought back old fans and recruited new fans to the sport.
Since the pandemic prevented most fans from attending live games, they were left with some disposable money and a thirst to engage with the sport. NBA cards filled this gap perfectly. With all these new people wanting to buy NBA cards, the prices had to hike.
2. Investment Opportunity
Surprisingly, most people who are buying NBA cards are not doing it out of their profound love for the sport. They are just hopping on to the latest quick returns investment.
With the ever-spiking NBA card prices, some entrepreneurs have made a fortune from the trade. In fact, there’s a theory that the same people who made a killing from flipping collectible sneakers have entered the NBA card market. If this is true, basketball card prices are only going to get higher.
As a general rule, the more rare an NBA card is, the more expensive it becomes. Rare and one-off cards are extremely desirable because every collector wants to have the most unique set. They are therefore willing to pay whatever it takes to get them.
4. Players’ Performance
Basketball cards are inseparable from the sport and even the players. Therefore, if the associated player begins to perform well in the game, their associated card will definitely appreciate as well.
For instance, all the legendary players like Steph Curry, Lebron James, and Michael Jordan have cards that sold for millions.
One of the primary causes of the high NBA card prices is autographs. Autographed merchandise has always been expensive, but basketball cards are taking it to the next level.
Additionally, some collectors take pride in only collecting autographed cards. This makes them more desirable, hence pricey.
Most Expensive Basketball Cards 2022
Although it’s possible to get a good basketball card for less than $100, most rare ones will cause significantly more. Here are a few of the most expensive cards you can buy in 2022:
Scottie Barnes 2021-22 Rookie Autographed Cards
Scottie Barnes is Raptors’ rebound and scoring machine. The new power forwards has proven on numerous accessions that he is a force to reckon with and the catalyst his team needs on defense. He’s so good that he has drawn compliments from Kevin Durant himself.
Scottie Barnes’s rookie cards are appreciating every day, with autographed set selling for upwards of $7000 on eBay.
Cade Cunningham 2021-22 Rookie Card
Despite a rocky start to the season, Cade Cunningham has started to show fans why he was the first pick 2021-22 NBA draft. Lately, he has been making plays all over the court, justifying the Luka Doncic comparisons.
Although comparing this new player to one of the league’s legends might be a stretch, he’s definitely got potential. Cade Cunningham cards are very valuable in the used market and have sold for more than $10,000.
Franz Wagner 2021/22 Donruss Choice Rated Rookie Gold
Orlando is pleased with the production it received from its first-round pick of the season. Wagner managed to stay on the court 32 minutes a game and made the most out of that time. He held his own with the legends and averaged 15 points a game with about 5 rebounds.
Being just 20, he’s expected to do greater things in the coming seasons. Wagner cards are steadily appreciating and can sell for more than $5000.
What Is the Most Expensive Basketball Card Ever Sold?
The most expensive basketball card ever sold is the Stephen Curry Autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie Card which sold for $5.9 million towards the end of 2021. The card is extremely rare since there’s only one in existence.
Most Valuable Basketball Cards From the ‘80S and 90S
Vintage NBA cards are also as valuable and desirable as modern ones. Here’s a list of the most valuable 80s and 90s cards:
1. 1980-81 Topps Magic Johnson RC, Larry Bird RC, Julius Erving
2. 1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey Michael Jordan
3. 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan
4. 1996 Topps Chrome Refractor
5. 1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley
Which Basketball Cards Should You Buy Now?
There are many great basketball cards in the market right now. The right one for you will depend on your budget.
However, you can never go wrong with a rookie card, as long as the player continues performing well on the court.
Are Basketball Cards Worthy Investments in 2022?
Basketball cards are having a moment in 2022. Anyone who bought an NBA card 2 years ago has certainly reaped the benefits. However, nobody knows when the bubble will burst.
Therefore, while basketball cards are a profitable investment, they are also risky investments.