The Ultimate Guide to Michael Jordan Rookie Cards

Welcome to the ultimate collector’s court, where legends are immortalized and dreams are captured in mint condition! Today, we’re showcasing the pinnacle of sports memorabilia – the Michael Jordan rookie Card, a treasure trove for fans and collectors worldwide. Michael Jordan, the name synonymous with basketball excellence, aerial artistry, and championship pedigree, has left an indelible mark on the game and our hearts.

Considered by many as the GOAT, Michael Jordan’s illustrious career includes 11 All-NBA team selections, 5 MVP awards, 6 Finals MVP honors, and 6 NBA championships, cementing his legendary status in the sport.

Michael Jordan 2024

The Michael Jordan Rookie Card isn’t just a piece of cardboard; it’s a portal to the past, a reminder of when a young phenom first stepped onto the NBA hardwood and began his journey to becoming the greatest of all time. As Jordan’s legacy continues to inspire new generations, the demand for his rookie card has skyrocketed, turning it into a coveted keepsake and a valuable investment.

Best Michael Jordan Rookie Cards

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

1986 Fleer #57

he 1986 Fleer No. 57 Michael Jordan rookie card is considered one of the most iconic basketball cards of all time. It features a young Michael Jordan soaring through the air in his Chicago Bulls uniform, showcasing the grace and athleticism that would define his career. The card has fetched impressive prices at auction, with one recent sale reaching $14,500 for a PSA 9-graded card.

Okay…. it’s not technically his rookie but 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

Another highly coveted Michael Jordan card is the 1984 Star No. 101 XRC, which predates his Fleer rookie card by two years. This card features Jordan in his classic Chicago Bulls attire and is considered an “extended rookie card” due to its earlier release date. Although not as popular as the Fleer rookie, it remains a significant piece in any serious collection of Michael Jordan cards.

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.

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 PSA as of the time of writing, and I can’t imagine that number getting too much bigger anytime soon. 

1985 Nike #2

Another iconic Michael Jordan card is the 1985 Nike #2 promotional card, which was distributed as part of a Nike advertising campaign. It captures Michael Jordan in his signature Air Jordan sneakers and is a classic piece of memorabilia linking the legendary player and the iconic brand.

1986 Fleer Sticker #8

Lastly, the 1986 Fleer Sticker #8 is another highly sought-after Michael Jordan card from the same year as his famous Fleer rookie card. While not as valuable as the No. 57 RC, it is a desirable piece for collectors as it features Jordan in a different pose and showcases the “Air Jordan” nickname that would follow him throughout his career.

These cards represent key moments in Michael Jordan’s illustrious career and serve as tangible evidence of his impact on the NBA, basketball, and sports in general.

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.

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 – Even more than his sparring buddy and teammate, Scottie Pippen.

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.

Michael Jordan Rookie Card Facts

What Year Is Michael Jordan’s Rookie Card?

Michael Jordan’s rookie card is from the 1986 Fleer Basketball set. This card, numbered 57, features a young Jordan soaring for a slam dunk and is iconic among basketball card collectors. In addition to the Fleer card, there is also a 1984 Star #101 card which predates Fleer’s release and is his “true” rookie card.

Are Star Basketball Michael Jordan Cards Considered Rookie Cards?

Yes, the 1984-85 Star Basketball Michael Jordan cards are considered rookie cards. The #101 card is often called the “extended rookie” card, while the #195 Gold Medalist and #288 Rookie Of The Year cards are also considered part of his rookie cards.

How Rare Are Michael Jordan Rookie Cards?

Michael Jordan rookie cards are not extremely rare, but they are highly sought after by collectors. The rarity increases with the card’s condition like gem mint (PSA 10) cards are more scarce. Popularity of the cards has grown, especially since the release of the documentary “The Last Dance.”

Are Jordan Rookie Reprints Worth Anything?

While Jordan rookie reprints are not as valuable as the original cards, they can still hold some value for collectors. However, their value is considerably lower than that of authentic rookie cards.

What’s the Long Term Investment Potential of Jordan Rookie Cards?

Historically, the value of Michael Jordan rookie cards has shown a steady increase, making them potentially sound long-term investments for collectors. This appreciation is partly due to his legendary career and increasing interest in sports memorabilia. However, future values are not guaranteed and can be subject to market fluctuations.

Is Jordan’s Second Year Card Worth Anything?

Michael Jordan’s second-year card, the 1987-88 Fleer Basketball #59, is also valuable. Although not as desirable as his rookie cards, it still holds significant worth, particularly in high grades like gem mint condition. Collectors often seek this card as part of a complete Michael Jordan card collection.

Grading and Authentication

How Do I Tell If My Jordan Rookie Card Is Real Or Fake?

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.

Identifying the authenticity of a Michael Jordan rookie card can be challenging, but there are some key factors to consider. One effective method is to compare the card’s characteristics with a known authentic card from the same 1986 Fleer Basketball set. By doing this, you can determine discrepancies in stock, weight, gloss, and overall feel. Be cautious, as Michael Jordan’s rookie cards are the most prone to counterfeiting in this set.

Another way to verify authenticity is to examine the back of the card. Often, fake cards have lower print quality and blurred text when compared to an authentic card. The card’s color may also be off, making it easy to spot a counterfeit.

How to Grade Michael Jordan Rookie Cards?

Grading a Michael Jordan rookie card should be done by one of the established sports card grading companies like PSA or Beckett. Grading services evaluate the card’s condition and assign a grade typically on a scale from 1 to 10, where PSA 10 and BGS (Beckett Grading Services) 10 represent the highest possible grades.

When grading a card, experts consider various factors, including:

  • Centering: The alignment of the card’s border and imagery.
  • Corners: The sharpness and condition of the four corners.
  • Edges: The state of the card’s edges, with no bumps or dings.
  • Surface: The overall condition of the card’s surface, including the absence of scratches or other marks.

A PSA 10 graded Jordan rookie is highly sought after and can fetch a substantial value in 2022. It is essential to use professional grading services when planning to buy, sell, or even authenticate a Michael Jordan rookie card, as it enhances the card’s value and gives potential buyers confidence in its authenticity.

Remember, grading and authentication should be reserved for reputable companies. It’s crucial to avoid making exaggerated or false claims about the card’s condition or worth, as this could negatively impact the sports card market and your credibility as a collector.

Buying and Selling Michael Jordan Rookie Cards

Buying Michael Jordan Rookie Cards can be an exciting and potentially profitable venture for collectors of men’s basketball memorabilia. It’s crucial to know where to safely buy these iconic cards, as well as understanding the different types of cards and their values.

Where Can I Safely Buy A Michael Jordan Rookie Card?

One of the most recommended places to buy a Michael Jordan rookie card is on online marketplaces like eBay. eBay provides authenticity guarantees, ensuring that you are purchasing a legitimate card. Additionally, you can find cards in various conditions, unopened boxes, and team sets on the platform.

Another option for buying cards is through specialty websites like Old Sports Cards and Jordan Cards. These sites offer a wealth of information on different cards, including officially licensed NBA cards, buyback autographs, and various basketball sets.

When purchasing a Michael Jordan rookie card, it’s essential to be aware of the card’s condition, as this will greatly impact its value. A card in mint condition can fetch tens of thousands of dollars on the secondary market. On the other hand, cards with visible imperfections will be valued lower.

When researching the value of a card, consider factors such as print runs, autographs, and team promotions. Limited edition cards or cards with a lower print run are generally more valuable. For example, the 1986-87 Fleer card is considered the most sought-after Michael Jordan rookie card due to its limited print run and being the only NBA-licensed standard-issue rookie card.

Finally, when buying or selling Michael Jordan rookie cards, always ensure the transaction is secure and transparent. It’s vital to protect your investment and make informed decisions when adding these valuable pieces of basketball history to your collection.

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 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. 


  • Vince

    I'm a big time sports nerd, with soccer being my first true love. I've been collecting sports cards since I was a little kid, and now... well, not much has changed, but I write about it... and I have facial hair.

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