When Michael Jordan (Read Jordan vs. LeBron) entered the NBA in 1986, he changed the league forever. He exploded on the scene with a combination of thunderous dunks and buttery mid-range jumpers that left defenders confused.
Jordan would evolve into the legend that we all know today and not only leave his stamp on the court but all over basketball culture.
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Jordan won six NBA championships, never losing in the finals, and was as much of a menace on the defensive side of the ball as he was on the offensive.
He was known for his fierce competitiveness which could spill over and result in confrontations with teammates at times.
However, Jordan was just pushing them to be the best version of themselves they could be and it’s hard to argue with the results.
Jordan was a born winner as he won at the college level, the professional level, and the international level.
He changed the game forever and helped blaze the path for the modern-day ultra-athletic shooting guard such as the late Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
Not only was he a great player, but Jordan also has a special rookie card that matches his special talent as the 1986 Fleer card is one of the most iconic across all sports, not just basketball.
The card harkens back to a time of transition in the league when Michael Jordan was just the new kid on the block and the league was run by legends such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Isiah Thomas.
This card helped breathe new life into the basketball card collecting industry, a hobby that had been on the brink of demise before the exciting young shooting guard from North Carolina entered the league.
The Mystique of the Card
While the player on the card is certainly a large factor in the legend of this card, there are a couple of other factors that have made it so special.
The 1986 Fleer set is one of the most iconic ever made and the Jordan card acts as the main attraction.
In the early 1980s, the NBA was dealing with a popularity problem as they struggled to attract fans to games and draw eyes on TV.
The arrival of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird at the start of the decade was the push the league needed to get off the ground, but the arrival of Michael Jordan was what pushed the league into overdrive.
Fleer decided in 1986 to enter the basketball card market as the league was growing in popularity and it turned out to be a great decision for the company as their debut set would go down in history.
The set is a great common ground for older and younger collectors alike as Jordan really transcends all eras and appeals to everyone
Every basketball fan admires his greatness, and the card combines some of the best aspects of older cards with the best from more modern cards.
Besides Jordan, the set contains some other magnificent cards including plenty of rookie cards.
The 1986 NBA draft (view the entire 86′ NBA Draft) was a strong one yet that is not the sole reason for the large number of signature rookie cards in this set.
Since no major card company was producing basketball cards for a few years in the early 1980s, this 1986 Fleer set acts as the de-facto first set for many superstars who entered the league during that time period.
Legends such as Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Chris Mullin, James Worthy, Patrick Ewing, and many others all have their first card from a major card producer in this set.
Despite all these amazing players having their rookie cards in this set, it’s still the Jordan card that steals the show.
In addition to all the signature cards that were included in this set, Fleer also added sticker cards as a special insert in each pack.
The stickers were made up of a set of eleven cards, including another one that features a rookie Jordan.
The sticker Jordan carries some value as well but not nearly as much as the Jordan rookie card.
The 1986 Fleer design is widely regarded to be one of the best on a set of basketball cards. It’s timeless and looks just as good today as it did when released in 1986.
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The red, white, and blue border give the cards a beautiful look while still keeping the shots of the players as the main focus.
In addition, the small yellow outline that goes around each image adds a nice touch and contributes to making this set one of the most visually appealing made.
The visual appeal of the cards cannot be denied and definitely is a factor in how this set is remembered.
When the 1986 Fleer set was released it had trouble selling.
Many of these packs sat on shelves for the price of less than a dollar but as time has gone on public opinion has completely shifted and it’s now one of many collector’s favorite sets.
If only we had a time machine and could go back and buy those packs!
1986 Jordan Fleer Counterfeits
Because of the sky-high value of the 1986 Jordan rookie card, there are unfortunately plenty of people out there looking to make a quick dollar with counterfeit cards.
This is the sad reality when it comes to sports cards and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
For those who prefer to have peace of mind and don’t want to deal with the hassle of checking if a card is counterfeit then they should look to purchase cards that have already been graded by one of the large, reputable grading companies.
If for some reason you find yourself interested in a non-graded card there are a few things to look out for to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.
The largest thing to look for is the overall quality of the card.
This can be very hard to discern for a novice collector but those with more experience might be able to tell the difference between a fake and real card through the overall quality.
Check for the sharpness of images and writing as on a real card there should not be any blurry aspects
Counterfeiters may try to act as if the card’s age has caused this effect, but any lack of crispness should be a large red flag.
Another area to closely inspect when looking at 1986 Jordan Fleer cards are all the logos on the card such as the Bulls one on the back of the card and the Fleer logos.
These aspects can often be the trickiest to replicate and thus should be looked at carefully.
The High Prices of the 1986 Fleer Set
As the supply continues to dry up we see the prices of the 1986 Fleer set, including the signature Jordan rookie card, continue to rise higher and higher.
The release of the 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan titled The Last Dance also added to the excitement around the legend and was another factor in the rising prices that we continue to see.
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In August of 2020, we saw a sealed case of 1986 Fleer basketball cards sell for almost $1.8 million at auction.
This just shows how much collectors everywhere love this set and the value of the Jordan card among others.
Best estimates put the possible amount of Jordan rookie cards in the case somewhere around 40, but the case will remain unopened according to the winning bidder.
We have also seen some solo Jordan rookie cards sell for high prices this year as high-graded versions have started to crack six-figures.
As time goes on, these prices should continue to stay high.
The Legacy of the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan will be remembered for many things: a crazy work ethic, a competitive streak that has never been matched, never losing in the NBA finals.
When it’s all said and done there has only been a handful of people, not just athletes, who have managed to form a connection with the public like Jordan did.
Jordan hasn’t played since a short stint on the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s and hasn’t been his dominant self since the late 1990s with the Bulls, yet he still occupies a huge role in the basketball world today.
He owns the Charlotte Hornets, and his Jordan brand sponsors many different players, programs, and teams all across the basketball world.
People who were not even born the last time that Jordan touched an NBA floor still adore and admire the man who many consider being the greatest to ever touch a basketball.
1986 Michael Jordan Fleer Rookie Card Outlook
Michael Jordan is not going anywhere and thus neither is his signature 1986 Fleer rookie card.
In fact, the value of this card should only continue to rise as the supply continues to dwindle and the cards need to be preserved.
Jordan is a large factor in the NBA’s widespread popularity today and his 1986 Fleer card is a special token of his legendary career.
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