The Ultimate Guide to Michael Jordan Rookie Cards

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It doesn’t matter what your thoughts about basketball are, MJ arguably the greatest player who ever played the game.

Hell, he even literally saved the planet in one documentary I watched.

Michael Jordan Mj GIF by Space Jam - Find & Share on GIPHY

I’m not going to get into an LeBron debates here, apologies.

However, in this article, we will look at Michael Jordan rookie cards. Also, it’s important to know that we’re talking about basketball only. You can read our article on Michael Jordan baseball cards if you want to know more about that.

Best Michael Jordan Rookie Cards

Here we’ll look into the most important Michael Jordan rookie card options.

1986 Fleer #57

Ask any basketball card collector to close their eyes and picture a Michael Jordan rookie card and I bet you this is the card that they imagine.

It’s pretty crazy what a play like MJ can do to the card market. These packs were actually kind of a flop when they first came out and mass-produced. Now – all these years later, they’re worth an absolute mint.

People are even getting the packs graded! 

The card itself is an absolute beauty too.

I love the photo on this card, MJ dunking like that is iconic throughout his career so to able to capture than on a rookie card is special.

Part of that “close your eyes and imagine a MJ rookie card” aspect comes from the card’s boarder too. The red, white, and blue is pretty special and sticks in the memory of collectors everywhere.

This is one of the most expensive basketball cards on the planet for a good reason.

1984 Star #101

While Fleer gets the rap as being the first Jordan cards, that’s actually not true.

Not True GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

If you want to find Jordan’s “true” rookie, whatever that means, you’ll need to head to the 1984-95 Star set.

Actually in that set, there were three Jordan cards. There was the rookie card above, a ‘rookie of the year’ card, and this Olympic games card too.

While Fleer cards were mass-produced for retail, the Star cards had a way smaller print run and were mainly sold to hobby shops.

They’re a lot harder to come across than the Fleer and are the earlier card.

So, why aren’t these cards way more popular? 

Well, there’s a funny story about that.

Actually, “funny” is the wrong way to say it.

One reason the cards aren’t as popular or as iconic as the Fleer set is that it turned out that throughout the 90s, the original owner of Star cards was printing new cards but backdating them to say that they were from the 80s.

I lied - GIF - Imgur

These counterfeit cards – for lack of a better term – were sold as new and started circulating their way around the hobby.

So, as you can imagine, they’re pretty hard to distinguish as being an original or a reprint. Not many grading services will touch these cards anymore for that reason too.

If you can get your hands on an original though, they’re a great find.

1985 Prism Jewel Michael Jordan Rookie Sticker

Seen one of these bad boys before?

Didn’t think so.

I’ve added this as the third and final Jordan rookie card because it’s definitely something different. It’s, to my knowledge, the hardest MJ rookie to find for re-sale.

This Michael Jordan rookie is actually a sticker, not a card. 

If you don’t know much about sticker, I’m your guy. I’m a soccer card and sticker collector first, so I know a bit about the product. Here’s some reasons why it’s harder to find the stickers.

  • Stickers are usually poorer quality product compared to cards. By that I mean a sticker is a little flimsy compared to cardboard.
  • Stickers are often used… well, as stickers. So, they’re stuck to things, which makes grading them over 30 years later a bit hard.

On top of those reasons, these stickers were sold out of vending machines in stores and not hobby shops, so they didn’t have a massive print run like a lot of other cards of the time.

In fact, there’s only 86 of these graded at the time of writing, and I can’t imagine that number getting too much bigger anytime soon. 

How Much are Michael Jordan Rookie Cards Worth?

Short answer.

A lot.

Long answer.

Michael Jordan rookie cards are arguably the chase card in basketball cards. At the end of the day, depending on your stance on the sports, it’s pretty hard for me to fathom anyone honestly having MJ outside their top two or three players of all time. Most will have him number one as someone who’ll never be topped – and with good reason.

With that in mind, Michael Jordan rookie cards are worth tens of thousands of dollars. For a highly graded Fleer, you’d be looking to spend well over $70,000, as that was the sale price in July 2020.

These cards are always a great investment opportunity, especially if you’re after a long-hold.

How To Spot a Fake Michael Jordan Rookie Card

With a card that’s as iconic as the Michael Jordan Fleer rookie card, there’s a lot of fakes.

As a shopper, it’s up to you to know which is which. Just check this out…

While there’s some obvious differences when you’re looking at a real and a fake next to each other, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be that easy if you’re only looking at a fake MJ rookie card.

Still, there’s a few things to look out for:

  • A less vibrant color selection, especially the blue around the name panel
  • Ink bleeding around the intricate parts of the card – think small logos like the crown on the Fleer logo, and the eyes of the Bull on the Chicago Bulls logo
  • Image clarity

Here’s a few things to look at shown in an image, you can save this to your computer or phone if you’re ever looking at buying a Michael Jordan rookie card.

Obviously, if you’re buying graded, a lot of the work will be done for you, but if you’re buying raw, it’s important to know what you’re doing.

Other Notable Michael Jordan Cards

The beauty of Michael Jordan cards is that they’re all worth something compared to the other cards in the set.

In fact, I know a bunch of people that make good money and only sell Jordan cards. Basically, they find cheap wax (unopened boxes) from MJ’s playing days, and get every good looking Jordan graded.

If the card is a PSA 10, it’s still worth good money and you can turn a cheap box into over $400-$500, depending on the card, and how many you pull.

It’s not just those base cards though, there have been some other great Michael Jordan cards over the years, here are some of the best Michael Jordan cards for sale right now.

Final Thoughts

Michael Jordan is arguably the best NBA player of all time, and his cards will always be a collector item.

It’s a boring strategy, but honestly, if you had a decent amount to invest in NBA cards and wanted something safe long-term, I’d point you towards Air Jordan.

A true must-have for any collector.

Here are some related articles that you might find interesting. 

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