Michael Jordan is the certified basketball GOAT, even if his baseball career left something to be desired! ‘His Airness’ is a living legend, and one of the more dominant stars in the history of U.S. sports.
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He was named as the Rookie of the Year, going on to be a five-time NBA MVP; Six-time NBA champion; six-time NBA Finals MVP, made the All-NBA First Team ten-times, was named as the Defensive Player of the Year; was a 14-time NBA All-Star; and a three-time NBA All-Star MVP.
Jordan also made the 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, as one of the first names on the team sheet. And that’s only half of it.
Of course, his achievements are only one of the reasons why he’s so popular in the present day, as Jordan managed to transcend beyond other sports stars from the era. He became a true icon, starring in movies, releasing his own brand of clothing with his image attached, and balancing fame with his career like few others have been able to.
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Here’s a list with 20 of the best Michael Jordan basketball cards, which are one of the strongest markets at the moment following the release of The Last Dance docuseries earlier in 2020.
Best 20 Michael Jordan Basketball Cards
The average price of Jordan cards has exploded over the past year, reaching heights that haven’t been seen before. Whether it’s his rookie card or later options, they’re seen as some of the top investment pieces in the hobby.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at copies that have achieved the highest grade possible, and we’ve listed the cards in chronological order, rather than by importance. (After all, they’re all great investment pieces!)
1984 Michael Jordan Star XRC #101 (buy on eBay)
The first card on our list is a pre-rookie card, released way back in 1984. Jordan’s Star card might not be as popular as the Fleer seen below, but it’s still a viable investment piece for collectors who want to own a real piece of basketball history.
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It features an action shot of a young MJ dominating the count, holding a ball aloft in both hands. The red and white border goes well with his Bulls jersey, although it is extremely condition-sensitive, and there have been a number of ungraded fakes found on the market.
1985 Michael Jordan Prism/Jewel Sticker (buy on eBay)
It’s a sticker rather than a card, but the ‘85 Prism Jewel is one of the earliest collectibles you’ll find that features Jordan. It has a couple of basic illustrations of the legend (sporting hair), and a shiny finish that makes it difficult to find in higher grades. It’s insanely valuable, even for versions that have been peeled already.
1986 Michael Jordan Fleer RC #57 (buy on eBay)
Arguably the best that money can buy, Jordan’s ‘86 Fleer is his definitive rookie card. The red, white, and blue border contain an action shot of MJ reaching up to dunk the ball, perfectly encapsulating everything that made him such an exciting player throughout his career.
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As a mid 80’s card, there’s no autograph or parallels, but it’s still valued highly by collectors. The edges are particularly susceptible to wear and tear, dragging downgrades regularly.
1986 Michael Jordan Fleer Sticker RC #8 (buy on eBay)
A sticker set was also released in 1986 by Fleer, and it’s valued highly by collectors thanks to its association with the card above. It has a basic design, with a simple image of Jordan dribbling, alongside a yellow tab on the left that contains the player name and team info.
It’s certainly more affordable than the RC listed above, although a gem mint version recently sold for just under $40,000. It’s not bad for a 35-year-old sticker.
1996 Michael Jordan SPx #8 (buy on eBay)
The first-ever signed Jordan card, the 1996 SPx Michael Jordan is another important piece of memorabilia.
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It has a unique die-cut shape, showing MJ soaring towards the stars. His signature is found in the middle, signed with blue ink, and there’s a faint second image of the player lurking in the background. It’s rare to see on sale, in any condition.
1996 Michael Jordan Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 2 /150 #23 (buy on eBay)
The Flair Showcase set was split into a 3-tier parallel set known as “Rows”. Row 2 is the more common cards, with Row 0 being rarer. There are also Legacy Collection Parallels, which we’re looking at here. The Row 2 card has a foil portrait image of MJ in the background and an image of the player dunking in the foreground. It’s more plentiful than many others on the list, but it’s still popular with collectors.
1996 Michael Jordan Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 0 #23 (buy on eBay)
As the rarest in the Legacy Collection overall, Jordan’s Row 0 is another card that makes an appearance on the list. As with the card above, it features two images of the player, with a faded action shot in the background, and a crisp profile photo in the foreground.
1996 Michael Jordan Metal Net-Rageous #5 (buy on eBay)
Another condition sensitive insert that reeks of the ‘90s, the 1996-97 Metal Net-Rageous Michael Jordan card is hard to forget! There’s a great shot of Jordan dunking in his Bulls jersey, with a Net-Rageous graffiti-style logo making up the background. It’s die-cut, while it was released in 1:288 packs.
As with all Jordan memorabilia, prices have risen in recent years, especially for high-grade versions.
1997 Michael Jordan E-X2001 Jambalaya #6 (buy on eBay)
A further popular insert from the late 1990s, the set focused on the best dunkers from the era. Jordan obviously makes the grade, with an image of him leaping through the air in signature fashion. The background is split red and green, with a thick black border.
The oval shape makes it more difficult to find in high grades compared to traditional cards, and it has a gold trim finish which wears easily. Mint versions can easily sell for five figures.
1997 Michael Jordan Skybox Premium Star Rubies #235 (buy on eBay)
The 1998-99 Skybox Premium Star Rubies Michael Jordan insert is limited to just 50 copies. This makes it insanely rare, before factoring in for the hyper-detailed chrome background that has no border.
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It contains a crisp image of Jordan holding off an opponent, in his iconic Red Bulls jersey.
1997 Michael Jordan Upper Deck Game Jerseys HOF Patch #GJ13 (buy on eBay)
This is the first-ever game-used jersey card to feature MJ, making it a significant hobby piece. It might not be the best to look at, but it was a prototype for the many options we enjoy today.
There’s also an autographed version that is hand-numbered to just 23 copies, celebrating the player with his famous jersey number. It’s one of the more expensive cards on the list for obvious reasons.
1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems/100 #23 (buy on eBay)
Arguably the best looking MJ card overall, the 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems is numbered to 100 copies. Only 90 of the PMG cards are red, while the remaining 10 are green. The latter is insanely valuable.
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There’s a large image of Jordan shooting through the air, with fire emanating from the ball in a slick graphic. The background is fully wrapped in colored chrome, corresponding with either the red or the green versions.
1997 Michael Jordan Fleer Thrill Seekers #7 (buy on eBay)
Next up is the 1997-98 Fleer Thrill Seekers. A crazy design sees Jordan blending in with the red background, with a blue shiny square in the middle. Why? No idea. They were originally released in 1:288 packs, so it’s not the rarest option, but it’s another that has good potential to see increased prices in the future.
1998 Michael Jordan Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems /50 #1 (buy on eBay)
From a later PMG set, this card is nowhere near as iconic as the ‘97 release. However, there are only 50 copies, it has a great gold chrome background, and a strong shot of Jordan as he powers towards the net.
1998 Michael Jordan Fleer Tradition Playmakers Theatre /100 #9 (buy on eBay)
The 1998-99 Fleer Tradition Playmakers Theatre MJ card is another rare option, with just 100 versions produced overall. The gold card is richly embossed and has a large image of Jordan powering down the court.
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Versions lacking either embossing or serial numbers do exist, so keep an eye out for any discrepancies before rushing in to make a purchase.
1998 Michael Jordan Skybox Molten Metal Fusion /250 #41 (buy on eBay)
Skybox produced some of the best looking cards during the decade, and this is another one that easily makes the grade.
The 1998 SkyBox Molten Metal Fusion is understated, especially for the decade. Jordan is pictured taking a shot on the left, with a grey background, and a further die-cut image of the player’s face made from tiny dots. Don’t let the lack of a signature put you off, as it’s still valued highly by collectors.
1998 Michael Jordan SkyBox Thunder Noyz Boyz #9 (buy on eBay)
Another late 1990’s insert, it’s easy to tell thanks to the ‘Noyz Boyz’ name, as it was acceptable to switch Z for S at the time for some inexplicable reason.
The die-cut design is the first thing that makes it stand out, showing an action shot of Jordan against a massive ‘Noyz Boyz’ logo background. The rarity (1:300 packs) also makes it popular in the present day, although it is one of the more affordable options overall.
2000 Michael Jordan Ultimate Collection Signatures Gold Autograph /25 #MJG (buy on eBay)
A rare and understated option, the Ultimate Collection Signatures Gold card is numbered to just 25 copies overall. There’s a plain segment at the top, with a further white section found at the bottom to make space for a large on-card signature.
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The middle features a classic image of Jordan, with a deep red hue which makes it stand out from the crowd. The serial number is found on the right, and the card has gold trim.
2003 Michael Jordan Exquisite Collection /225 #3 (buy on eBay)
The 2003-04 Exquisite release included two Michael Jordan base cards, numbered #3 and #4. We’re looking at the former, which features a large image of the player with a ball in both hands. He’s in his Bulls jersey, and it looks like the background has been ripped away in a unique design.
Both of the base cards are serial-numbered to 225. Copies of the #3 will have a serial number on the right-hand side, while the other shows an image of Jordan dunking.
2009 Michael Jordan LeBron James Exquisite Collection /23 #ED-JJ (buy on eBay)
The last card on our list is a great double auto, featuring two of the best players to wear the number 23 jersey. MJ is joined by LeBron James in a late release that came way after Jordan’s final retirement in 2003.
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The 2009-10 Exquisite Collection is numbered to just 23 copies, with quartered segments for player pictures, and a large on-card auto for both players. In the middle is an outlined 23 logo, featuring a patch from Jordan and James. Despite being released just over a decade ago, that hasn’t stopped prices from rising rapidly.