The world of Michael Jordan collectibles has been going nuts. Sale prices realized for the top 10 Michael Jordan collectibles have been rapidly rising over the last several years. Have we reached a “permanently high plateau,” – or will the air deflate from the Jordan craze in the coming months?
Jordan basketball cards, game-worn shoes, jerseys, and all types of memorabilia have been in enormous demand over the last several years. Is there any opportunity left to find truly great Jordan collectibles at reasonable prices? That is highly dependent on your collecting goals and your available budget. But what caused Michael Jordan collectibles to skyrocket in value? Other than the fact that he’s arguably one of the greatest athletes ever to live, a recent T.V. series might have played a part.
The Last Dance
If there was one recent event to pinpoint an acceleration in the values of Michael Jordan collectibles, it would be The Last Dance. The miniseries co-produced by ESPN Films and Netflix, directed by Jason Hehir, debuted last year while the country was preparing for lockdown due to the Covid pandemic. Over 5 weeks, from mid-April to mid-May in 2020, The Last Dance aired every Sunday night, with never-before-seen footage and interviews from Michael Jordan showcasing his amazing career.
Sports fans and many who remember the “Air Jordan” era were glued to each episode, where the legend seemed to grow all over again. Incredible commentary documenting every twist and turn throughout MJ’s career made the series a smash hit. Jordan gave us insight into the most memorable moments of his career and pulled the curtain back on an era many can vividly remember. It also may have been the first introduction to younger collectors who never witnessed firsthand the cultural influence Jordan had on the 80s and 90s.
Many believe Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time. The never-before-seen footage from The Last Dance strengthened that argument. Someday, Lebron James might release his own rendition of ‘LeBron’s Last Dance,’ and maybe that convinces us he was the GOAT, but as of now, Jordan wears the GOAT crown, and The Last Dance made the argument ironclad.
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card
Let’s start by looking at what is happening to the most valuable Michael Jordan items lately. The 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card has been making news over the last several months. Each time the card sells at auction, it seemed to break new records for the highest price ever realized for the Jordan rookie.
But recently, prices have cooled for the 1986 Fleer Jordan. I wouldn’t say Jordan cards have fallen drastically, but the record sales seem to have peaked, at least for now. Things can change quickly in a hot market. For example, recently, a Lebron James rookie card sold for $5.2 million. You never know when momentum will shift to the next legendary player. After all, that’s what makes collecting so much fun.
PSA 10 Jordan Rookie Sales
Maybe it was only coincidence, or possibly due to the entire globe locking down in their homes due to the pandemic, but sports cards in general, and especially the Jordan basketball card values began to take off into the stratosphere.
Here’s a look at a few of the sales for the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card in GEM MINT PSA 10 condition throughout the year. The first sale coming before ‘The Last Dance’ aired, and then each sale thereafter.
Recent Auction Sales of the 1986 Fleer Jordan Rookie Card in PSA 10 Condition
- March 22nd 2020 $48,000
- April 19th 2020 $51,600
- May 8th 2020 $96,000
- May 21st 2020 $97,200
- August 30th 2020 $420,000
- December 5th 2020 $150,000
- December 6th 2020 $151,200
- January 30th 2021 $738,000
- March 1st 2021 $588,000
Another great comparison is final sale prices for the same 1986 Fleer Jordan rookies in PSA 9 and PSA 8 condition. A breakdown between various card rating companies would also be informative. Does a PSA-rated Jordan Fleer rookie card hold more value than a comparable Beckett Grading Service (BGS) rated card?
PSA 9 Jordan Rookie Sales
The big question is, can the huge price jump in the Fleer card hold over the long term, or was this a one-time pandemic/Last Dance price surge? Will other Jordan trading cards from later years continue to “take-off,” or will the price increases only apply to the highest-rated Jordan rookie?
Recent Auction Sales of the 1986 Fleer Jordan Rookie Card in PSA 9 Condition
- 2014 $2,000
- Feburary 2020 $11,200
- April 9th 2020 $12,500
- July 20th 2020 $12,300
- October 8th 2020 $15,500
- January 29th 2021 $66,123
- Febuary 26th 2021 $66,766
- March 3rd 2021 $32,000
- March 15rd 2021 $53,100
- May 22nd 2021 $90,000
With so many sales occurring in the lower-rated cards, it’s easy to pick and choose certain sales data to support a given argument. One of the things I realized searching PSA 9 Michael Jordan rookie sales over the last year is the huge range in sales price, even within a given month. Pricing seems to be very inconsistent, depending on which auction results you are looking at.
For smaller budgets searching for the iconic 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card, Goldin Auctions offers a PSA 8 rated card with the current bid sitting at $9,500 with 13 hours remaining in the auction. What’s great about collecting sports cards is there’s almost always something for every budget size.
The Michael Jordan 1997 Metal Universe
The 1997 Metal Universe Green Jordan card is regarded as possibly the second most coveted Michael Jordan card out there. Only 100 Precious Metal Gem cards are produced each year, with the first 10 cards labeled “Green,” making it one of the rarest Jordan cards in existence.
In February of 2019, a 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Green Michael Jordan card was sold for $350,000.
Michael Jordan Game Worn Sneakers
In the world of game-worn shoes, jerseys, basketballs, and equipment, there’s no bigger name than Michael Jordan. Jordan sneakers which have been worn in NBA games during his career, have sold for mid-six figures.
Before the Nike Air Jordan 1 was released, the Nike ‘Air Ship’ was released for Mike’s preseason and early games in his rookie year. A pair of the Air Ship Nikes is scarce given the short time Jordan wore them. Nike wasted little time replacing the Air Ships and creating the official ‘Air Jordan’ lineup of sneakers midway through his rookie season.
Air Jordan 1
If you thought the Nike Air Ship sneakers seemed expensive, we already have proof there’s incredible demand for an item such as this. In August of 2020 (just a few months after ‘The Last Dance’), Christie’s auction house sold a pair of signed, game-worn Jordan 1’s for $615,000. At the time, this was the highest price ever paid for a pair of sneakers at auction.
Just a month before the sale, a similar pair of Air Jordan 1s sold for $560,000, more than three times the estimate for the shoes.
Michael Jordan Collectibles and Game Worn Jerseys
One of the most expensive Michael Jordan collectibles to ever sell at auction is a jersey he wore while playing at the University of North Carolina, which sold for $1.38 million. Worn during Mike’s sophomore season, the sale price was over three times more than the previous record sale for a Jordan game-worn jersey.
It was his final season of college basketball, one year after hitting the game-winning shot to win the national title as a freshman. After his sophomore year, Jordan would leave the Tar Heels and join the Chicago Bulls in the NBA when he was the third overall pick in the draft. For some perspective on this particular jersey, it sold in 1999 for a record (at the time) of $63,500.
Other Michael Jordan Collectibles
If a pair of game-worn Jordan 1 sneakers is out of your budget, there’s plenty of options for more Michael Jordan collectibles for your bookshelf. Autographed NBA basketballs are much more affordable, where you can pick up a Jordan signed ball for around $5,000 – $9,000. The item shown below is authenticated by Upper Deck and includes an individually numbered tamper-evident hologram and certificate of authenticity.
Drive Like Mike – in His Mercedes
Can’t get enough Michael Jordan memorabilia and looking for something truly original? I have the perfect solution. Buy the car Jordan drove during the 1997-1998 season, also featured in The Last Dance episodes.
Mike’s 1996 Mercedes-Benz S600 Lorinser was recently sold by the Beverly Hills Car Club. The Benz S600 features medium gray leather upholstery, a navy exterior paint job, and of course, a V-12 engine. The final selling price was $202,000.
The Dream Team
There are numerous collectibles from Michael Jordan’s time as a member of The Dream Team. Jerseys, basketball cards, and autographed photos are selling virtually every single day on eBay. Heritage Auctions featured a 1992 USA Basketball “Dream Team” signed photo, including every member of the squad.
Auction results date back to 2018 where sales were in the $9,000 range; today, I would expect an item like this to sell for at least double that price. The summer Olympics photo includes Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, and every other Dream Team member, who are all now in the Hall of Fame. (yes, Christian Lattner is in the Hall of Fame) The Dream Team would go on to win the gold medal, easily crushing every team they played.
Laney High School Michael Jordan Collectibles
One Michael Jordan collectible you don’t see every day is the jersey he wore while attending Laney High School. Selling for $7,500 on Amazon, this signed jersey is framed with photos of Mike playing for his high school back in the early 80s. It’s not a game-worn model, but it’s signed, framed, and Upper Deck certified.
Michael Jordan All Star game memorabilia is also featured throughout auction sites. Some include autographs, but my favorite items are the old-school All-Star Jordan jerseys without the autograph. You can find All-Star game jerseys for $40 – $50 bucks through eBay.
Personally, I’m always suspect of signed memorabilia. Autographed sports memorabilia seem to be ground-zero for fraudsters and scam artists, so I always assume an autograph is fake unless I actually see Air Jordan himself pull out a sharpie and sign on the dotted line. That being said, this jersey is certified and authenticated by Upper Deck if that makes you feel better. Just be careful out there – is all I’m saying. Anyway, it’s a great item to hang on the walls of any Michael Jordan fan.
Michael Jordan Collectibles, Game Used Louisville Slugger
What’s better than holding a game-used Louisville Slugger from a former hall of fame player? My favorite game-used bats are not autographed; the Louisville Slugger name stamped on the barrel is a worthy enough signature for me. Verifying a bat was actually used in a game by a hall of fame player is nearly impossible, as ballplayers go through hundreds or even thousands of bats per season. But the lumber pictured below is a beauty, nonetheless.
Game-used bats by some of the greatest athletes of all time are a perfect addition to any memorabilia collection.
As you can see in the Youtube video below, Michael Jordan was a larger-than-life sports icon who cemented his legacy as one of the greatest competitors to play professional sports. I’m not sure if the values of Michael Jordan collectibles can keep up their pace from the previous couple of years. But what makes collecting and investing so interesting is that nobody really knows what will happen to even the best and most exclusive assets in the world.