If I were ranking this list, it would be shocking not to have this card at the top. What is not to love about the iconic MJ Fleer rookie card? [delete two extra spaces] The card captures his iconic flight en route to a one-handed dunk, all while the tongue is flapping in the wind. How about the red/blue/white and yellow inner border that screams ‘80s warm-up suit? It doesn’t get any more classic than this. Another critical component to this card’s popularity is that the run is so simple: #57 is the only base set version of the card, and there is only one subset card—the sticker rookie card. That’s it. Less is more. It’s easily the most recognizable basketball card of all time, and unfortunately it’s also one of the most faked/reprinted cards. The MJ fleer rookie can be seen as a significant “key date” for you coin collectors. MJ, across the board, has only seen an overall increase in value in almost all of his cards, highlighted even more so with this 1986 sample. (To briefly touch on the authentic element and looking at our shop records for 2019—the count is up to eight—as in eight is the number of people who have brought in a “valuable MJ rookie” to sell to us, resulting in the unfortunate fake news. Additionally, a search on eBay will allow you to buy a “reprinted” version of this card for a few bucks.)
Please be careful when looking into purchasing this card, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Buying an already graded version of the MJ Fleer rookie will save you a lot of headaches, and this card is also one of the few cards on this list that we would not recommend buying at the PSA 10 Gem Mint level, simply because the price tag is quite high. A PSA 7 NM or BGS 8 NM-MT would be an ideal entry point for the novice collector/investor and will run roughly $1,500 to $2,200 based on eye appeal. Try and find a decently centered copy, as well as the centering and edge wear on these MJs, can be tough. Lastly, just like his game, the MJ rookie IS the GOAT. Don’t @ me!