The first ever NBA cards of superstars Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins were only available in Star Company team sets. They didn't sell packs of Star cards, instead they were sealed plastic bags. Star produced large sets for seasons 1983-84, 1984-85 and 1985-86 as well as small sets covering events and specific players.
The first Star cards released came in the form of a 1983 Star All-Star Game set. This was followed by the 1983-84 set and its 23 team bags. Dominique Wilkins' first NBA card, called an extended rookie card, is part of the Hawks team bag. The first cards of Isiah Thomas, Clyde Drexler, James Worthy and Danny Ainge are in this Star set. The Celtics team bag often has the highest price, due to the Larry Bird card. Star produced two other sets that year, 1983-84 Star Rookies and 1983-84 Star Sixers Champs.
Star increased the numbers of sets for 1984 with All-Star Game and All-Star Game Denver Police sets, Award Banquet, Celtics Champs and Slam Dunk. The best cards in 1984 Star Slam Dunk are those of Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler and Dominique "The Human Highlight Film" Wilkins.
The most expensive Star set would be 1984-85 Star, which includes Michael Jordan's first NBA card. Card 101, Michael Jordan's extended rookie card can be worth half the complete set's price, which has 288 total cards. A complete 1984-85 Star set sold on eBay in the fall of 2012 for $3,083. Most were ungraded cards although the two Jordan cards and several others were graded. The Jordans were GAI 8 NM-MT. While most collectors consider the 1986-87 Fleer to be Jordan's rookie card because of its distribution in packs, the extremely limited distribution of the Star Company sets and the fact that it is indeed Jordan's first standard sized trading card means the issue is up for debate.
Other extended rookie cards from that set that collectors should be aware of include Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Perkins, Otis Thorpe and Sam Bowie. Fans of the Mavericks, Lakers, Celtics, Bucks and 76ers had another team bag to acquire in 1984-85 Star Arena. Eighteen more cards for fans of the 76ers were available in 1984-85 Star Julius Erving.
Some small sets from 1985 included more Jordan cards and other superstar players. Jordan's card is the most valuable in 1985 Star Crunch'n'Munch All-Stars, 1985 Star Lite All-Stars, 1985 Star Last 11 ROY's and 1985 Star Gatorade Slam Dunk. Two sets with lower prices are 1985 Star Coaches, which includes a Pat Riley card, and 1985 Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The 1985-86 Star set has an interesting variation. The Boston Celtics cards came with green or white borders. The ones with white have been higher in price although recently the difference between the colors seems to have become smaller. The Celtics set has the usual Bird, McHale and Parish cards and also Bill Walton in a Celtics uniform. The most expensive team bag is the Chicago Bulls, due to Michael Jordan. Collectors will also want the extended rookie card of Patrick Ewing in the New York Knicks team bag.
Star finished production of NBA-licensed cards with a number of small sets. 1986 Star Michael Jordan has 10 cards. There are also Jordan cards in 1985-86 Star All-Rookie Team, 1986 Star Best of the Best, 1986 Best of the New/Old and 1986 Star Court Kings. Two other sets produced by Star are 1986 Star Magic Johnson and 1985-85 Star Lakers Champs.
Most of the Star cards were the regular size but collectors will also come across cards 5 inches by 7 inches in size. There is a Michael Jordan card in the 1984-85 Star Court Kings 5x7, 1985 Star Slam Dunk Supers 5x7 and in the Bulls team bag from the 1985 Star Team Supers 5x7.
Some good news for collectors is that there are still many sealed bags of Star Company basketball sets so cards in mint condition are available. Star cards all share a similar and effective design, with a team or other logo in the bottom left corner on the front and useful information on stats on the back.