Set Registry Starter Kit: Shaquille O’Neal Rookie Set

 

It’s about time we featured a basketball set in this column, and we couldn’t think of any larger, more powerful example than Shaquille O’Neal’s Rookie Set.

By the time the 7-foot-1 behemoth called it a career, “Shaq Daddy” had four NBA championship rings, 15 All-Star selections, an MVP, an impressive slew of nicknames and, eventually, a Hall of Fame nod.

Though his rookie cards were printed in a quantity on par with the number of Shaq’s nicknames, the titanic center was truly a one-of-a-kind player. And if you’re assembling a Hall of Fame hoops set or are new to the hobby and looking for an easy, affordable basketball set to track down, you can certainly do worse than the rookie cards of “The Big Conductor.”

We grabbed these four cardboard alley-oops from Shaq’s six-card Registry Rookie Set to get you started.

1992 Fleer #401

1992 Fleer #401

  • PSA population: 370 PSA GEM-MT 10
  • Average cost for PSA 10: $25 

See summary prices by grade.

With gold borders and a picture of the big man dwarfing his defender as he calls for the ball, 1992 Fleer immediately grabs your attention. But collectors beware; those gold borders can box you out of a chance at a PSA 10. At 370 examples, 1992 Fleer has the second lowest population of Shaq rookies in this entry. Still, you can buy a PSA 10 outright for just $25.

The gold borders of the Fleer rookie certainly add to the eye appeal.

 

 

 

1992 Hoops #442

1992 Hoops #442

  • PSA population: 1,064 PSA GEM-MT 10
  • Average cost for PSA 10: $20

See summary prices by grade.

Rather than posturing for the ball, “Diesel” is pictured with the ball clutched between his two massive hands, skying high over an unfortunate defender and about to crush a powerful dunk. These cards are easier to find than the first entry on our list, more than tripling the PSA 10 population of 1992 Fleer Shaq rookies.

Remember, kids; they don’t call him “Diesel” for nothin’.

 

 

1992 Skybox #382

1992 Skybox #382

  • PSA population: 872 PSA GEM-MT 10
  • Average cost for PSA 10: $18 

See summary prices by grade.

Even the busy layout of this 1992 Skybox issue isn’t enough to mute the powerful big man unleashing one of his trademark dunks as two defenders look on in helpless admiration. Random design elements aside, an action shot of Shaq doing what Shaq does best is hard to pass up. The borderless card is apt to show wear.

1992 Upper Deck #1

1992 Upper Deck #1

  • PSA population: 298 PSA GEM-MT 10
  • Average cost for PSA 10: $350 

See summary prices by grade.

We’ve arrived at the most popular, and most scarce, card of “Superman.” Its creative frame-by-frame shot of Shaq was, and still is, a draw for collectors. Of all the Shaq rookie cards, this creative take on the man might be the most eye-catching, too. No gaudy gold borders. No red banner attempting to box out “The Real Deal” – just a clever depiction of the monster athlete ascending to the rim. You’ll also notice the comparatively small population of PSA 10 examples. That’s likely due to the high-gloss surface and black edges of the card, which are both susceptible to wear and combine for a tricky grade under the rim.

It looks like the Shaq attack is still strong with his Upper Deck rookie, as you can see below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the gigantic center entered the league, Diesel was larger than life, literally. Defenders tried in vain to stop the powerful rookie, but once that locomotive was in motion, all you could do was watch. His rookie cards caught a similar head of steam, as collectors ran to local card shops to chase them down.

Fortunately for those who missed out on Shaq’s rookies back in the day, he entered the league during the cardboard craze that marked the early ‘90s. That means you don’t have to search too hard to track down any of these examples. In fact, if you think you can take on the big man, you can buy these four cards of his six-card set for just $413. More than halfway there, all PSA 10s, and you won’t even have to sink any free throws to land them. See if you have what it takes and give Shaq’s six-card rookie set a shot on the PSA Set Registry.

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Posted by Ryan Gaeta

Ryan is a sports fan and Non-Sports aficionado, who is still tormented by the fact he owned the entire 1st Edition run of Pokémon cards but traded them away or ruined them at one point or another.

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