Basketball cards were undoubtedly one of the biggest beneficiaries of the recent collectibles boom, with several headline grabbing sales taking place in the last 18 months. Below we’ve compiled a list of the most expensive basketball cards of all time. Each player with a card on the forthcoming list is either enshrined or guaranteed to become inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. With that said, here’s the list…
1. 2009-10 Panini National Treasures Stephen Curry Logoman Autograph Rookie Card #206
Sold in July 2021 for ~$5.9 million in a private sale
Steph Curry put himself on the map with his tremendous scoring prowess at the University of Davidson. After totaling 28.6 points per game in his junior year, the Golden State Warriors selected Stephen Curry as the 7th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Through 13 illustrious NBA seasons with the Warriors, Curry is a seven-time All-Star, three-time scoring champion, two-time MVP, and three-time NBA champion.
Panini’s 2009-10 Panini National Treasures is one of the most coveted sets of all time, with Curry’s Logoman rookie card leading the way. Not only is Curry’s Logoman serial-numbered 1-of-1 autograph rookie card the most expensive basketball card ever sold, but also one of the most valuable sports cards in the hobby.
2. 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Rookie Patch Autograph AU/23 #78
Sold in April 2021 for $5.2 million by PWCC Marketplace
After capturing three state championships, and one national championship at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, LeBron James was selected as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since LeBron made his NBA debut on October 29, 2003, he’s emerged as the greatest player of his generation and one of the very best of all time. Throughout his remarkable 19-plus year NBA career, LeBron has achieved countless accolades, including but not limited to Rookie of the Year, 17-time All-Star, four-time MVP, four-time NBA champion, and recently earned his place on the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
LeBron’s 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection rookie patch autograph card is fittingly serial-numbered to 23 cards, denoting the number LeBron wore in high school and the bulk of his NBA career. LeBron’s 2003-04 Upper Deck RPA will remain one of the most sought-after sports cards for years to come.
3. 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Luka Dončić Logoman Autograph Rookie Card #127
Sold in February 2021 for $4.6 million in a private sale
Before debuting in the NBA, Luka Dončić signed a five-year deal with Real Madrid Baloncesto as a 13-year-old, competing in the Liga ACB and EuroLeague. After his success abroad, Dončić declared for the 2018 NBA Draft, ultimately selected as the third overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Dončić quickly established himself at basketball’s highest level, averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in his rookie season en route to the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Panini’s 2018-19 National Treasures set is one of the most coveted basketball sets in recent memory. The most prized card from the set is Luka’s iconic Logoman 1-of-1 rookie card, which surfaced in a box break by Layton Sports Cards. When Luka’s rookie card was sold in February 2021, it set the record for the most valuable sports card at the time. To emphasize the significance of the sale, Luka’s renowned rookie card was ungraded by a sports card authentication company when a collector made the record-breaking purchase.
4. 1997-98 Upper Deck Michael Jordan All Star Game Used Jersey #GJ13S
Sold in October 2021 for $2.7 million by Goldin Auctions
In Michael Jordan’s legendary 15-year NBA career, he made the All-Star team every year except in the 1985-86 season due to a broken foot suffered early in the season. At the 1997 NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland, Ohio, Jordan recorded 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in just 26 minutes of play, becoming the first player in league history to record a triple-double at the NBA All-Star Game.
Jordan’s 1997-98 Upper Deck autograph card features his game-used jersey that honored the 50th anniversary of the NBA. Like LeBron’s RPA, Jordan’s iconic card is suitably serial-numbered to 23. Michael Jordan is the most decorated and influential basketball player in league history, and his 1997-98 Upper Deck game-used jersey card from the 1997 All Star Game is his most valuable basketball card of all time.
5. 2013-14 National Treasures Giannis Antetokounmpo Horizontal Rookie Patch Autograph #130
Sold in September 2020 for $1,812,000 by Goldin Auctions
With two years of professional basketball under his belt with Filathlitikos in the Greek B Basketball League and CAI Zaragoza in the Liga ACB, Giannis declared for the 2013 NBA Draft. On June 27, 2013, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Giannis Antetokounmpo made his highly anticipated NBA debut on October 13, 2013, becoming one of the youngest NBA players in NBA history at the age of 18 years and 318 days old.
Antetokounmpo’s 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Logoman rookie card is limited to 1-of-1. With a BGS 9 for the card’s condition and BGS 10 for Antetokounmpo’s autograph, the Greek Freak’s 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Horizontal RPA prevails as his most expensive card.
6. 1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Refractor Rookie Card #138
Sold in March 2021 for $1,795,00 by Goldin Auctions
Drafted out of Lower Merion High School in the 1996 NBA Draft, the late Kobe Bean Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Kobe played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, capturing every significant award along the way, including being an 18-time All-Star, five-time NBA champion, and posthumously named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
This distinguished 1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant rookie card that earned a BGS 10 Black Label is the epitome of greatness. Kobe’s Refractor rookie card has a total BGS population of 295, with just two cards meriting a BGS 10 Black Label.
7. 2004-05 Upper Deck LeBron James Ultimate Signatures Logos Logoman #USLLJ
Sold in March 2021 for $1,291,500 by Goldin Auctions
LeBron’s second most expensive card emerged from 2004-05 Upper Deck in his sophomore season. LeBron’s iconic Ultimate Signatures Logoman card is limited to 1-of-1 and graded Authentic by PSA, with a PSA/DNA 10 for his autograph. Already an NBA great, when LeBron ultimately hangs up his shoes, he will be revered as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, ensuring continued demand for his 2004-05 Logoman card.
8. 2013-14 Panini Prizm Giannis Antetokounmpo Prizms Black Mosaic Rookie Card #290
Sold in December 2020 for $1,140,000 by Goldin Auctions
Antetokounmpo’s 2013-14 Panini Prizm Black Mosaic rookie card is limited to 1-of-1 and ranks as his second most expensive card. With a near-perfect grade of BGS 9.5 and collectors understanding that this is the only copy, Giannis’ Prizms Black Mosaic rookie card is prized by collectors.
9. 2002-03 Upper Deck Kobe Bryant Autograph Logoman #KBNBA
Sold in October 2021 for $922,500 by Goldin Auctions
Upper Deck released Kobe’s autograph card in 2002-03, highlighting his first Logoman card. Kobe’s Logoman card merited a BGS 9 for the card’s condition and a BGS 10 for his historic autograph. Kobe’s Logoman card is serial-numbered 1-of-1 and exhibits Kobe’s second most expensive card.
10. 1980-81 Topps Larry Bird/Julius Erving/Magic Johnson Scoring Leader
Sold in August 2021 for $840,000 by Goldin Auctions
Larry “Legend” Bird, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and Earvin “Magic” Johnson are three of the most decorated basketball players of all time. Including Erving’s five seasons in the ABA, the three Hall of Famers have a combined 40 All-Star Game appearances, 10 MVP awards, and 12 championships.
When Topps issued this iconic card featuring the trio of NBA legends, Erving was already an established NBA player in his fifth NBA season and 10th overall professional basketball season. However, it is recognized by many as both Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s rookie cards. According to PSA’s population report, the Scoring Leader card has a total population of 10,067, although, just 25 cards, roughly .002% earned a PSA 10.