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.

2006-2007 Bowman Elevation JJ Redick rookie Blue Parallel #d 174/399 BGS 9
2006-2007 Bowman Elevation JJ Redick rookie Blue Parallel #d 174/399 BGS 9 $9.99
Time Remaining: 29d 13h 11m
Buy It Now for only: $9.99
BGS 9.5 Chris Bosh 2003 Topps Chrome Black Refractor /500 RC Rookie LeBron James
BGS 9.5 Chris Bosh 2003 Topps Chrome Black Refractor /500 RC Rookie LeBron James $89.90
Time Remaining: 29d 13h 26m
Buy It Now for only: $89.90
Tony Parker 2001-02, Topps Chrome Refractor ROOKIE RC #155 SGC 9 MINT Gorgeous!
Tony Parker 2001-02, Topps Chrome Refractor ROOKIE RC #155 SGC 9 MINT Gorgeous! $13.50 (4 Bids)
Time Remaining: 8d 14h 46m
1990 FLEER MICHAEL JORDAN ALL-STARS #5 - PSA 9 MINT - LOWEST BIN ON EBAY!
1990 FLEER MICHAEL JORDAN ALL-STARS #5 - PSA 9 MINT - LOWEST BIN ON EBAY! $15.00
Time Remaining: 29d 9h 23m
Buy It Now for only: $15.00
2002-2003 Upper Deck GEM MINT 9.5 BGS LA Lakers Kobe Bryant Jersey Reel Time
2002-2003 Upper Deck GEM MINT 9.5 BGS LA Lakers Kobe Bryant Jersey Reel Time $0.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 6d 13h 24m
1961-62 Fleer Basketball Card #46Elgin Baylor IA SGC 60 EX 5
1961-62 Fleer Basketball Card #46Elgin Baylor IA SGC 60 EX 5 $12.52 (4 Bids)
Time Remaining: 3d 11h 54m
1961-62 Fleer Basketball Card #22 K.C. Jones RC SGC 35 GOOD+ 2.5
1961-62 Fleer Basketball Card #22 K.C. Jones RC SGC 35 GOOD+ 2.5 $7.50 (3 Bids)
Time Remaining: 3d 11h 54m
1988-89 Fleer #43 DENNIS RODMAN Signed Pistons RC AUTO Rookie Autograph PSA/DNA
1988-89 Fleer #43 DENNIS RODMAN Signed Pistons RC AUTO Rookie Autograph PSA/DNA $9.50 (4 Bids)
Time Remaining: 8d 13h 34m
2009-2010 09-10 Topps LEBRON JAMES Graded Card PSA 9 MINT #42 Cavaliers Cavs LBJ
2009-2010 09-10 Topps LEBRON JAMES Graded Card PSA 9 MINT #42 Cavaliers Cavs LBJ $20.00
Time Remaining: 29d 17h 22m
Buy It Now for only: $20.00
1961 Fleer #46 Elgin Baylor SGC 84 NM Sinks A Basket Centered
1961 Fleer #46 Elgin Baylor SGC 84 NM Sinks A Basket Centered $9.99
Time Remaining: 9d 15h 53m
1986-87 Fleer #2 Alvan Adams PSA 9 MINT
1986-87 Fleer #2 Alvan Adams PSA 9 MINT $26.01 (8 Bids)
Time Remaining: 2d 15h 5m
PSA 9 Kyrie Irving 2012 Panini Contenders #250 Auto RC Rookie Celtic Playoff BGS
PSA 9 Kyrie Irving 2012 Panini Contenders #250 Auto RC Rookie Celtic Playoff BGS $130.00
Time Remaining: 29d 13h 26m
Buy It Now for only: $130.00
TIM DUNCAN 1997 Finest #306 (Defenders) San Antonio Spurs ROOKIE GEM SP PSA 10
TIM DUNCAN 1997 Finest #306 (Defenders) San Antonio Spurs ROOKIE GEM SP PSA 10 $0.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 6d 13h 38m
1996 Stadium Club Michael Jordan Members Only Psa 10 Offers Encouraged
1996 Stadium Club Michael Jordan Members Only Psa 10 Offers Encouraged $250.00
Time Remaining: 29d 23h 53m
Buy It Now for only: $250.00
BGS 9 MINT 1996/97 Stadium Club Members Only #52 Kobe Bryant Finest RC LAKERS
BGS 9 MINT 1996/97 Stadium Club Members Only #52 Kobe Bryant Finest RC LAKERS $2.59 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 3d 15h 16m
2012 Panini Prizm #245 Damien Lillard RC Gem Mint PSA 10
2012 Panini Prizm #245 Damien Lillard RC Gem Mint PSA 10 $15.50 (3 Bids)
Time Remaining: 1d 16h 11m
1991 Fleer Michael Jordan Bulls #211 PSA 10 Gem Mint *1017
1991 Fleer Michael Jordan Bulls #211 PSA 10 Gem Mint    *1017 $28.99
Time Remaining: 29d 2h 51m
Buy It Now for only: $28.99
1992 UPPER DECK #23 MICHAEL JORDAN "CLASSIC IMAGE" A TOP 250 MJ CARD! PSA 10!
1992 UPPER DECK #23 MICHAEL JORDAN $6.38 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 8d 16h 12m
1986 Fleer Basketball Patrick Ewing BGS 9 (9, 9, 9.5, 9)
1986 Fleer Basketball Patrick Ewing BGS 9 (9, 9, 9.5, 9) $144.99
Time Remaining: 29d 11h 3m
Buy It Now for only: $144.99
1986 Star Best of The Best #7 Patrick Ewing Knicks RC Rookie HOF BGS 9
1986 Star Best of The Best #7 Patrick Ewing Knicks RC Rookie HOF BGS 9 $8.50 (5 Bids)
Time Remaining: 4d 16h 51m

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