Editor’s note: Since this entry was published on Feb. 18, 2020, new record prices have been set for Michael Jordan’s 1986 Fleer #57 rookie card in PSA 10. Most notably, on May 20, 2020, a PSA 10 example sold for a record high of $99,630.
If you were to write an entry on a card set of “His Airness,” Michael Jordan, where would you start? What’s left to say that hasn’t already been said? Are there enough superlatives to properly do the globally recognized athlete justice?
Widely considered the greatest player in NBA history, Michael Jordan was practically untouchable in his prime and, to this day, remains perhaps the most recognizable athlete in the world. With his high-flying tactics and undeniable penchant to perform in the clutch, Jordan has authored an unbelievable number of timeless sports highlights. In fact, Jordan has such an impressive, clutch highlight reel, a simple online search of “top Jordan moments” produces countless articles of his on-court exploits. It’s for this reason, and so many more, that any promising prospect who ascends the NBA ranks is compared to Jordan and his greatness, and the reason why many athletes pale in comparison.
This ubiquity, of course, can be felt in the hobby. Just like “Air Jordan” is everywhere in sports and pop culture, so too are his cards and memorabilia. And of course, Jordan collectibles continue to be extremely sought after and marked on countless hobby wish lists. Whether you’re an enterprising new collector looking to set your sights on a long-term hobby project, or a veteran Michael Jordan fanatic, his 72-card set presents a fun collecting challenge to build up over time.
Let’s get into the composition of the Michael Jordan Basic Set. To start, we’ve highlighted five cards from the set, four from his first four years in the NBA and one from his second, second act.
Just like Jordan himself, few, if any, cards are more recognizable than his 1986 Fleer rookie. This fabled piece of cardboard features Jordan skying high over defenders and about to drop a powerful slam dunk, as he did so many times in his storied career. Because the card is so widely recognized and coveted, it commands strong trading card value, averaging $32,000 in PSA 10. Even unopened boxes of this set have been known to sell for thousands, due to the mere, slight possibility that this card resides inside. The fickle red borders can be susceptible to chipping.
PSA Mint 9: $6,100
PSA Gem Mint 10: $32,000
Though not as sought after as his rookie card, Jordan’s 1987 issue still sees plenty of value as an early Jordan offering. Fleer reportedly ran a shorter print run for this release, which would explain why the PSA Population of this card is roughly half that of his rookie issue. There are currently over 9,600 examples within the PSA Population. The card depicts the superstar with eyes fixed down the court as the play develops.
PSA Mint 9: $436
PSA Gem Mint 10: $2,500
The image choice for Jordan’s 1988 issue didn’t come close to the magic of his rookie issue, or even that of his sophomore card. His Airness is seen seemingly face-palming Kevin Willis during game time. Still, collectors can do worse than acquiring an early Jordan from his early days in the NBA. And as an added bonus, this card can be found in high grade for a fraction of what his 1986 issue would cost. PSA 10 examples currently average around $500.
PSA Mint 9: $81
PSA Gem Mint 10: $550
By 1989, Jordan was absolutely cruising. He led the league in scoring, which was becoming commonplace for the dominating player (he would do this 10 times during his career). Plus, he authored one of the greatest plays in NBA history, “The Shot,” to edge out the Cavaliers in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs. Greatness was now expected from No. 23. This card, currently valued at around $150, is a great get for collectors looking to get their hands on a PSA 10 Jordan from the ’80s. Just know that centering can be tricky with this card.
PSA Mint 9: $17.33
PSA Gem Mint 10: $156
PSA Mint 9: $10
PSA Gem Mint 10: $27
And this is the lone example we featured depicting Jordan in his second – second? – act. The living legend had just called it a career in 1999, but, like the superhuman he is, a quiet, peaceful life outside of the court would not do. Jordan came out of retirement for the second time in his career, this time to play for the Washington Wizards. As this card features a late-career Jordan, it is, by far, the most affordable of the four cards we’ve highlighted to begin this entry. PSA 10 examples are an easy get at around $27.
Michael Jordan Cards Required to Complete the Set
For those looking to tackle the set in its entirety, here is a complete list of the cards required, including PSA “Weights” in parenthesis. Weights are determined by the card’s secondary market value using a scale from 1.00 to 10.00 with 10.00 being the most expensive:
- 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan #57 (10.00)
- 1987 Fleer Michael Jordan #59 (5.00)
- 1988 Fleer Michael Jordan #17 (2.00)
- 1989 Fleer Michael Jordan #21 (1.50)
- 1989 Hoops Michael Jordan #200 (1.00)
- 1990 Fleer Michael Jordan #26 (1.00)
- 1990 Hoops Michael Jordan #65 (1.00)
- 1990 SkyBox Michael Jordan #41 (1.00)
- 1991 Fleer Michael Jordan #29 (1.00)
- 1991 Hoops Michael Jordan #30 (1.00)
- 1991 SkyBox Michael Jordan #39 (1.00)
- 1991 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #44 (1.00)
- 1992 Hoops Michael Jordan #30 (1.00)
- 1992 SkyBox Michael Jordan #31 (1.00)
- 1992 Stadium Club Michael Jordan #1 (1.00)
- 1992 Topps Michael Jordan #141 (1.00)
- 1992 Ultra Michael Jordan #27 (1.00)
- 1992 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #23 (1.00)
- 1993 Finest Michael Jordan #1 (1.00)
- 1993 Fleer Michael Jordan #28 (1.00)
- 1993 Hoops Michael Jordan #28 (1.00)
- 1993 Stadium Club Michael Jordan #169 (1.50)
- 1993 Topps Michael Jordan #23 (1.00)
- 1993 Ultra Michael Jordan #30 (1.00)
- 1993 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #23 (1.00)
- 1994 Finest Michael Jordan #331 (1.50)
- 1994 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #359 (1.00)
- 1995 Finest Michael Jordan #229 (1.00)
- 1995 Fleer Michael Jordan #22 (1.00)
- 1995 Hoops Michael Jordan #21 (1.00)
- 1995 SP Michael Jordan #23 (1.00)
- 1995 Stadium Club Michael Jordan #1 (1.50)
- 1995 Topps Michael Jordan #277 (1.00)
- 1995 Ultra Michael Jordan #25 (1.50)
- 1995 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #23 (1.50)
- 1996 Finest Michael Jordan #50, #127 or #291 (1.50)
- 1996 Fleer Micheal Jordan #13 (1.00)
- 1996 Hoops Michael Jordan #20 (1.00)
- 1996 SP Michael Jordan #16 (1.50)
- 1996 Stadium Club Michael Jordan #101 (1.50
- 1996 Topps Michael Jordan #139 (1.00)
- 1996 Ultra Michael Jordan #16 (1.50)
- 1996 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #16 (1.50)
- 1997 Finest Michael Jordan #39, #154, #271 or #287 (1.50)
- 1997 Fleer Michael Jordan #23 (1.00)
- 1997 Hoops Michael Jordan #220 (1.00)
- 1997 SP Authentic Michael Jordan #23 (1.50)
- 1997 Stadium Club Michael Jordan #118 (1.50)
- 1997 Topps Michael Jordan #23 (1.00)
- 1997 Ultra Michael Jordan #23 (1.50)
- 1997 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #18 (1.50)
- 1998 Finest Michael Jordan #81 (1.50)
- 1998 Fleer Michael Jordan #23 (1.00)
- 1998 Hoops Michael Jordan #23 (1.00)
- 1998 SP Authentic Michael Jordan #1-10 (1.00)
- 1998 Stadium Club Michael Jordan #62 (1.50)
- 1998 Topps Michael Jordan #77 (1.00)
- 1998 Ultra Michael Jordan #85 (1.50)
- 1998 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #23 (1.50)
- 2001 SP Authentic Michael Jordan #90 (2.00)
- 2001 Stadium Club Michael Jordan #134 (2.00)
- 2001 Ultra Michael Jordan #102 (1.50)
- 2001 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #178, #403 or #450 (1.50)
- 2002 Finest Michael Jordan #100 (1.50)
- 2002 Fleer Michael Jordan #220 or #270 (1.50)
- 2002 SP Authentic Michael Jordan #99 (1.50)
- 2002 Stadium Club Michael Jordan #100 (1.50)
- 2002 Topps Michael Jordan #10 (1.00)
- 2002 Ultra Michael Jordan #23 (1.50)
- 2002 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #180 (1.50)
- 2003 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #27 (1.50)
Give the Set a Shot
Though the topic is debated, Michael Jordan is considered the best to ever play the game, drawing comparisons across sports to the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali, in that this illustrious group of athletes demonstrated sheer, untouchable dominance during their primes. And with six championship rings acquired via not one but two “three-peats,” five MVPs, 10 scoring championships and a comical amount of other accolades, it’s tough to dispute No. 23’s greatness. Throw in a laundry list of timeless on-court heroics and a brand that spans the globe, and you have a basketball god.
Few, if any, athletes have made such a mark as Jordan, which makes his trading cards from any period of his career hot items.
Yes, acquiring 72 cards of any athlete is no small task, let alone a global, legendary figure like Jordan. But it is doable, and you can chronicle your journey on the PSA Set Registry, as well as compare your cards to those of other collectors along the way. If you think you have what it takes, click the button below and try the Michael Jordan Basic Set on for size.Start Your Set Today