The 1990s is a storied decade in the game of basketball. This was a decade that saw one of the most revered players of the game make his debut. That’s none other than the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant. This decade also saw one of the most iconic moments of the game: Michael Jordan’s final shot as a Bull. With 5.2 seconds left on the clock, MJ released that 17-footer that helped the Bulls win their 6th NBA championship in the 90s.
With basketball cards capturing the best highlights of the game and its players, the cards of 1990s are some of the most memorable, which makes them some of the most valuable.
However, with so many basketball cards printed every year, a whole decade will have an ocean of cards, with a wide range of value. In this article, we’ll show you the most valuable basketball cards of the memorable 1990s decade.
Table of Contents
10 most valuable basketball card of the 1990s
1997 – 1998 UD Game Jersey Michael Jordan #GJ13
1996 Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant #269 PSA 10
1992 Classic Draft Pick Shaquille O’Neal Auto RC
1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson RC BGS 10
1999 Upper Deck Ovation Super Signatures Gold Michael Jordan #MJS card
1997 Skybox Z-Force Michael Jordan Quick Strike card
1990 Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal #19 Non Perforated card
1996 Fleer Metal Universe Kobe Bryant #181 Error Card
1997 SPx Gold Die-Cut Michael Jordan #5 Signed PSA 10
1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Michael Jordan #M4 PSA 10 GEM MINT
Many basketball cards from the 90s decade are very valuable today, especially those featuring Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Here are 10 of the most valuable.
1. 1997 – 1998 UD Game Jersey Michael Jordan #GJ13 $599,999.99
This is a very interesting and valuable basketball card. For those that remember, it was the 1997 UD Game Jersey cards that sparked the jersey patch craze. So, this basketball card has some sort of historical significance.
The card features Michael Jordan bouncing the ball as he prepares for a scoring run. Apart from being a piece of history, this is one very rare card. The odds of pulling it from a pack is 1 in 55,000 packs.
Also, the front of the Michael Jordan #GJ13 basketball card features an authentic piece from a jersey worn by the legend himself in the 1992 All Star Game. As if that is not enough, the card is hand-signed by Michael Jordan himself. Also, this piece is in near-perfect condition. It is graded 9.5 by Beckett (BAS).
2. 1996 Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant #269 PSA 10 $500,000
This is one of the most valuable basketball cards out there. The picture is the Black Mamba himself executing some sort of over the back slam dunk, and it is framed by a gold edge. This basketball card has surged in value since that tragic passing of Kobe.
Being a gold refactor, this basketball card is visually appealing. It is also very rare. The odds of puling a gold refactor from a pack is 1 in 288 packs. With PSA 10 points grade, it is in the best condition possible.
3. 1992 Classic Draft Pick Shaquille O’Neal Auto RC $500,000
Big Shaq is another player of the game whose cards command huge fees. This 1992 Classic DP Shaquille O’Neal card is one of the most valuable of them all.
The card features the big man in his LSU days hanging on the rim after a powerful dunk.
Being a rookie card of big Shaq make this card special. Wat is more, it is autographed and hand-numbered by the big man himself. The bold signature covers the entire bottom part of the card. Importantly, it is also a PSA 10 GEM mint card.
Shaq’s rookie card + autographed + PSA 10 = very valuable.
4. 1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson RC BGS 10 $250,000
This Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson #171 cards is one of the rarest cards of this great basketball players nicknamed the Answer. It was released in 1997, which is a memorable year for AI and collectors of AI’s cards. He debuted in that year and also went on to win rookie of the year. So, this rookie card is a jewel.
The card features AI in his Sixers no. 3 jersey letting out a celebratory shout, with his teammates around.
Being a rookie of the year’s rookie card is not the only thing that makes this AI’s card special. You may find some other of this card, but finding one in pristine condition is very difficult. But this particular one is pristine – with BGS 10 grade.
5. 1999 Upper Deck Ovation Super Signatures Gold Michael Jordan #MJS card $250,000
This UD Ovation Super Signature Jordan #MJS card is one of the most beautiful basketball cards you’ll find. The design is clean and features gold trims. It has two pictures of Michael Jordan – one picture is of the legend executing a beautiful one-handed dunk over another picture of his head.
This gorgeous basketball card is one of rare cards hand numbered by Michael Jordan to only 23. This means it is rarer than the unsigned cards. A big part of the card is devoted to MJ’s signed autograph. This MJ autographed /23 card is also is very good condition. It is graded by Beckett, and proudly has 8 points.
6. 1997 Skybox Z-Force Michael Jordan Quick Strike card $199,999
This special basketball card features Michael Jordan throwing what is definitely a 3-pointer. He’s set on a beautiful background that features a brown oval shape giving off bright colours.
Talking of unreal basketball cards! This Skybox Z-Force Strike Force Michael Jordan card is one. It is literally one of its kind. You won’t find any like it anywhere.
This is because it is a 1/1 autographed card. The bold blue autograph is perfectly placed on the card. The signature of Michael Jordan on a basketball card is enough to make it special. It being the only card in its set to be so autographed takes it from special to super special.
7. 1990 Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal #19 Non Perforated card $100,000
Talking of special O’Neal cards, you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than this Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal #19 non-perforated card. This is because it is the big man’s first trading card. It was released in 1990, two years before his rookies.
The card pictures Shaq donning his no. 33 LSU jersey, in his center position, reading the game.
This non-perforated card had only 1,200 print runs making it a very rare Shaq’s card. Adding the mystique of being a pre-rookie, it is one very valuable basketball card. Also, it is PSA 10 graded card. It is in the best condition possible. That is why its worth reaches the six-figure mark.
8. 1996 Fleer Metal Universe Kobe Bryant #181 Error Card $48,000
Sometimes, what makes a collectible very rare and valuable is an error. When a company notices an error in a lot, the production is stopped, and those items are never released. Decades later, the “error products” that make it out can become very valuable.
That is the story of this Metal Basketball Kobe Bryant #181 card. It features the Black Mamba bouncing the ball and most probably already eyeing the backboard.
What makes it so valuable is that it is a rare error card. The word “Robert Park” is erroneously written over “Kobe Bryant” on the card. So, this card is a one-of-a-kind card that should have ever been released. It also comes in great condition, graded 8.0 by Beckett (BGS).
9. 1997 SPx Gold Die-Cut Michael Jordan #5 Signed PSA 10 $59,999
This is another special and rare autographed Michael Jordan basketball card. The SPx Die-Cut Gold MJ #5 card is not like the regular rectangular cards. Rather one side is shaped like a less-curvy “S”, while the other is shaped like an “X”.
It has a picture of the phenom in game action, as well as a smiling MJ in the background. The card has a bold blue signature of MJ over it. This authentic stamp of the biggest name of the game raises the value of the card. Impressively, it is in mint condition. It has the perfect 10 PSA grade.
10. 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Michael Jordan #M4 PSA 10 GEM MINT $22,575
Another card that makes it into our list is this SP Authentic Michael Jordan insert card. The picture has MJ executing a no-look pass, in a black background that blur everything else to highlight the phenom.
This Michael Jordan insert is from Upper Deck’s 98/99 SP Authentic release. According to Upper deck, the odds of pulling a Michael Jordan insert card is 1 in 144. The odds reduce to virtually zero if the card is to be in mint condition.
This is one that that makes this MJ SP Authentic #M4 card very valuable. It is in mint condition, graded PSA 10. Also, it is one of the five that have managed to earn the prestigious PSA 10 points grade.
How to get basketball cards graded
Getting your basketball card graded by a professional card grading company is important. This s because grading officially authenticates the card and establishes its quality/ condition.
There are a lot of grading companies. However, PSA (Pros Sports Authority) is generally regarded as the best. BGS and SGC are also two companies that are well-regarded.
Getting your basketball card graded is simple as submitting your card to the company. The company will closely check the card, and give it a grade (out of 10 points). Some of the things considered are: centering of the card, printing errors, and evidence of wear. After grading, the card is encapsulated in a tamper-free casing with the grade and certification number displayed.
How to sell basketball cards
Selling your basketball card is actually very easy because you can sell them in yard sales, in pawn shops near you, and in a host of online places.
When selling online, you have the options of selling:
- Selling directly to collectors – an example is Deanscard.com.
- Selling in auction sites – some of these sites include eBid
- Selling in online market places – these include eBay and Craiglist
The only effort it’ll take from you is highlighting the specifics of your card (like the player featured, the year of issue, etc) and taking photographs of it that’ll help in preliminary evaluations.
Where can I buy basketball cards?
You can buy basketball cards wherever they are sold such as in garage sales, and in online selling places like eBay.
How much are my basketball cards worth?
Your basketball cards can be worth anything from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars.
Looking at the 1990 cards above, the 97/ 98 UD Game Jersey Michael Jordan #GJ13 is worth a whopping $599,999.99, while the 1998 UD SP Authentic Michael Jordan #M4 is worth $22,575.
The worth of your card can swing wildly depending on factors like the type of card, who is featured in it, how rare it in, and its condition.
What basketball cards are worth money?
The basketball cards that are worth the most are rare rookie patch autos (RPA) of star players in mint condition. That is, a rookie card of a star player that is hard to get, autographed by the player, has a patch of his game-worn jersey, and graded as mint.
To understand this, let’s take a look at the factors that make basketball cards valuable.
- Year of Issue
- Player featured
- Condition/ Grading
- Autograph/ Patch
Year of Issue
Generally, basketball cards released during a player’s rookie year are more valuable than those released afterwards. In the same vein, those released in the player’s second year will be more valuable than those released in the third year, and so on.
For example, the most expensive basketball cards ever are rookie cards. The first is a Lebron James rookie card that sold for $5.2 million, and the second is a Luka Doncic rookie card that sold for $4.6 million.
For the 1990’s decade, the basketball cards that’ll be worth money are rookie cards – cards of players making their debut in that decade. However, there are a few exceptions to this, as the 90’s Michal Jordan’s cards show.
Cards of star players are generally the most valuable. Just like the health of a company affect its stock, how much a player goes on to achieve affects the value of his rookie cards.
So, when gunning for rookie cards, they should be cards of players that went on to achieve great success in the game. It doesn’t matter that the height of their careers was after the 1990s.
Thus, not all rookie cards of the 1990’s are worth serious money. Rather, the very valuable ones are rookie cards that feature stars of the game like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Allen Iverson.
With all collectibles, condition is a big determinant of value. It is the same thing with basketball cards.
So that there are no confusions about the condition of a basketball card, cards are usually officially graded. This authenticates the cards and defines their condition (in a scale of 1 – 10).
Generally, a card with a higher grade (is in a better condition), and will be valuable than an identical card with a lower grade. Thus, cards that are worth money are those graded as mint by trusted grading companies like PSA and BSG.
Cards that are rare are generally valuable than those are easy to get. You can use serial number or population report to determine cards that are rare.
For example, a 1/1 card shows that it is the only one that exists and will be very valuable. An MJ hand-numbered /23 card shows that only 23 of its kind exists, and will be very valuable.
Other things that make a card valuable are autographs and patches. If a card is signed by the featured player, it’ll be more valuable than an unsigned version. Also, if the card comes with a game-worn patch of the featured player’s jersey, it’ll be very valuable.
The 1990s saw a host of great basketball stars make their debut as well as some iconic moments. So, many basketball cards of this decade capture these highlights and are very valuable.
These are usually worth from a few hundred dollars to up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. These include: 97 UD Michael Jordan auto patch #GJ13 BSA 10, 96 Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant #269 PSA 10, 92 Classic DP Shaq O’Neal auto RC PSA 10, and 97 Topps Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson #171 RC BGS 10.
With a few exceptions, the most expensive basketball cards of the 90s are rare RPA (rookie patch autographed) mint cards.
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