The Market for Vintage Basketball Cards

Card collectors need to predict the future. When they are investing in vintage graded basketball cards, if they guess that there will be more collectors after those cards in the coming years they can grab some bargains right now.  Old basketball cards were a blip on the radar until the early 90s when the market picked up and it's stayed strong ever since.

As the supply of vintage basketball cards is limited, especially those graded at MINT 10, and the popularity of basketball and the number of fans around the world can certainly increase it could mean prices will go up. Throwback jerseys of the NBA's early stars are popular, and video game makers are including past stars in current games, it makes sense that the people who buy those items will begin to look at purchasing graded vintage cards.  For many in the 30s, even the rare 1990s insert cards that are so hot right now are 'vintage'.  That's the league's core demographic and those people will always be fans and most find the game's history fascinating.

If a couple of high-end collectors decided to go after the few mint condition 1948 Bowman cards and the first Topps and Fleer sets the prices could go up quickly. Baseball player Dmitri Young spent plenty of money acquiring the best baseball rookies, graded Gem Mint PSA 10 (which he later sold), and there are many other sports people and those in the entertainment industry with large bank accounts who could look to basketball cards as a hobby. Another potential new market for high-end vintage cards are international collectors, especially those in Asia.

There is a market for graded cards, for the superstars of the early NBA and even for cards that came before the NBA existed. One example is the small number of basketball cards that were part of the 1933 Sport Kings set. Nat Holman was a famous player in the ABL, and one of his cards sold for $15,880 at a Mile High Card Company auction. Holman's 1933 Sport Kings #3 card was graded PSA 8 NM-MT.  An Ed Wachter card from the same set, 1933 Sport Kings #5, and with a grade of PSA 8.5 NM-MT+ was sold in a Memory Lane Inc. auction for $5,053 .

The ESPN 30 For 30 and NFL Films documentaries have shown that sports fans want to learn about past stars. The market for vintage basketball cards could increase with more exposure of the sport's past. The recent documentary about the 1992 Dream Team increased interest in those players with a new generation of fans.

One thing going against possible growth in prices of vintage cards is that many of the teams do not exist in the same manner that they did four or five decades ago. A lot of the best players from the past have rookie cards from relocated and renamed teams, so current fans may not be as enthusiastic when it comes to collecting cards of the Rochester Royals or Syracuse Nationals.

Another possible reason for the vintage card market to stay at its current level and not grow is that the NBA is a league driven more by highlights and player popularity than it is by career numbers and achievements. Dolph Schayes may be a legend of basketball, Sam Jones won ten NBA titles and Jack Sikma won a championship early in his career and even led the NBA in free throw percentage as a center late in his career, but Nate Robinson would have a lot more fans than those players combined due to his Slam Dunk contest wins.

You can the most watched basketball cards on eBay to see which vintage cards might be very popular with collectors, a list that almost always includes some of the game's icons.

Michael Jordan 1991 Upper Deck PSA 10
Michael Jordan 1991 Upper Deck PSA 10 $0.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 6d 22h 24m
1996-1997 Upper Deck SP Kobe Bryant Rookie Card RC LAKERS NON AUTO PSA 9 MINT
1996-1997 Upper Deck SP Kobe Bryant Rookie Card RC LAKERS NON AUTO PSA 9 MINT $14.99
Time Remaining: 29d 14h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $14.99
1986 Fleer Karl Malone Psa 8 Rookie Perfect centering
1986 Fleer Karl Malone  Psa 8 Rookie Perfect centering $58.00
Time Remaining: 28d 17h 10m
Buy It Now for only: $58.00
1992 Upper Deck Rookie Standouts Harold Miner Miami Heat RC PSA 10 GEM MINT
1992 Upper Deck Rookie Standouts Harold Miner Miami Heat RC PSA 10 GEM MINT $25.00
Time Remaining: 54m
1970-71 Topps Basketball PSA & SGC Graded Complete your set. Pick your card.
1970-71 Topps Basketball PSA & SGC Graded Complete your set. Pick your card. $7.70
Time Remaining: 2d 21h 59m
Buy It Now for only: $7.70
1996 - 1997 Fleer Z-Force Slam Cam Grant Hill PSA 8.5 Mint!
1996 - 1997 Fleer Z-Force Slam Cam Grant Hill PSA 8.5 Mint! $1.25 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 4d 15m
2013-14 Panini Prizm #290 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks RC Rookie BGS 9.5 GEM MINT
2013-14 Panini Prizm #290 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks RC Rookie BGS 9.5 GEM MINT $75.00
Time Remaining: 6d 23h 7m
Buy It Now for only: $75.00
UD 2005-2006 BGS 9.5 W/10 GEM MINT CHRIS PAUL ROOKIE SLAM RC -[DM]
UD 2005-2006 BGS 9.5 W/10 GEM MINT CHRIS PAUL ROOKIE SLAM RC -[DM] $22.99
Time Remaining: 29d 16h 2m
Buy It Now for only: $22.99
1990 Fleer Michael Jordan PSA 9 MINT!
1990 Fleer Michael Jordan PSA 9 MINT! $0.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 9d 20h 21m
1986 Fleer Sticker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #1 BGS 7 NM 2 X 8 SUBS HOF LAKERS
1986 Fleer Sticker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #1 BGS 7 NM 2 X 8 SUBS HOF LAKERS $50.00
Time Remaining: 29d 7h 4m
Buy It Now for only: $50.00
2010-2011 HASSAN WHITESIDE LIMITED AUTO #16/249 PHENOMS BGS GRADED 9 RC CARD
2010-2011 HASSAN WHITESIDE LIMITED AUTO #16/249 PHENOMS BGS GRADED 9 RC CARD $2.50 (3 Bids)
Time Remaining: 3d 21h 37m
RARE PSA 10 Michael Jordan 1994-95 Collector's Choice #23 Gold Signature Auto
RARE PSA 10 Michael Jordan 1994-95 Collector's Choice #23 Gold Signature Auto $3,219.00
Time Remaining: 29d 22h 42m
Buy It Now for only: $3,219.00
1969 Topps # 1 WILT CHAMBERLAIN PSA 4 Lakers Vg-ex
1969 Topps # 1 WILT CHAMBERLAIN PSA 4 Lakers Vg-ex $0.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 4d 3h 22m
michael jordan 1999-00 ud upper deck mvp 201 bgs pristine
michael jordan 1999-00 ud upper deck mvp 201 bgs pristine $299.00
Time Remaining: 9d 6h 8m
Buy It Now for only: $299.00
1993 FLEER ALL-STARS #5 MICHAEL JORDAN BULLS HOF PSA 9 K2565892-788
1993 FLEER ALL-STARS #5 MICHAEL JORDAN BULLS HOF PSA 9 K2565892-788 $109.99
Time Remaining: 2d 21h 50m
Buy It Now for only: $109.99
PSA 8 1986 FLEER JULIUS DR. J ERVING STICKER #5 76ER'S HOF 'ER L@@K !!!
PSA 8 1986 FLEER JULIUS DR. J ERVING STICKER #5 76ER'S HOF 'ER L@@K !!! $20.51 (3 Bids)
Time Remaining: 3h 35m
1994 SP FOIL #3 GRANT HILL RC HOF PSA 10 K2357272-861
1994 SP FOIL #3 GRANT HILL RC HOF PSA 10 K2357272-861 $94.99
Time Remaining: 28d 18h 39m
Buy It Now for only: $94.99
1986 Fleer #53 Magic Johnson - BGS 9 MINT
1986 Fleer #53 Magic Johnson - BGS 9 MINT $5.50 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 4d 3h 38m
1985 Star 5x7 Team Supers #7 Andrew Toney PSA/DNA Certified Auth Auto *4099
1985 Star 5x7 Team Supers #7 Andrew Toney  PSA/DNA Certified Auth Auto *4099 $199.00
Time Remaining: 26d 18h 44m
Buy It Now for only: $199.00
1999/00 Ultra Millennium Men #11 Stephon Marbury PSA GEM MINT 10 *8457
1999/00 Ultra Millennium Men #11 Stephon Marbury PSA GEM MINT 10 *8457 $249.00
Time Remaining: 23d 22h 16m
Buy It Now for only: $249.00

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