Top Budget Hall of Fame Basketball Rookie Cards of the 1970s

Top Budget Hall of Fame Basketball Rookie Cards of the 1970s

The NBA during the 1970s was defined by an overall increase in athleticism, league-wide parity and an upstart competitor with the ABA. It was also a burgeoning era for basketball cards. While a number of top players emerged during the decade from both the NBA and ABA, many of the best rookie cards for Hall of Fame players from the period remain appealing budget options.

Despite not yet achieving a mainstream appeal, professional basketball during the 1970s was exciting and helped grow the league. The collecting scene also benefited because card collectors finally had the consistency necessary to help cultivate the market. Every season throughout the decade was covered by Topps, including both ABA and NBA players in most of the years. View each basketball set from Topps during the 1970s here.

Looking back at that period of basketball, we are left with some loud designs, plenty of color, and a roster of HOF talent. The biggest names, like Julius Erving and Pete Maravich, remain more expensive, but the rest of the elite talent is fairly cheap.

The following list looks at 15 of the best budget Hall of Fame rookie cards from the 1970s. Every card on the list can be found ungraded for under $50, and many are closer to $20. However, most of the high grade cards still maintain a considerable premium.

For a modern look at Hall of Fame rookie cards, check out our guide to 1980s and 1990s basketball HOF budget rookie cards here.

Top Budget HOF Basketball RCs of the 1970s

Click on the title or images to shop for singles on eBay. 

1971-72 Topps Nate Archibald RC #29

Nicknamed "Tiny," the diminutive Nate Archibald played like he was a giant. Archibald was a six-time NBA All-Star and won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 1981. The prolific point guard led the league in both assists and scoring during the 1973 season.

1971-72 Topps Nate Archibald RC

1971-72 Topps Dave Cowens RC #47

Although he played for the Milwaukee Bucks to his end his career, to most fans, Dave Cowens will always be a member of the Boston Celtics. Cowens won titles with the Celtics in 1974 and 1976 and was the league MVP in 1973. He was named to seven NBA All-Star games and was the 1971 Rookie of the Year.

1971-72 Topps Dave Cowens RC

1971-72 Topps Bob Lanier RC #63

As the first overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft, Detroit had big expectations for Bob Lanier. Although he never achieved the ultimate goal, an NBA title, Lanier still put together a HOF career, including eight NBA All-Star appearances and an All-Star MVP award in 1974.

1971-72 Topps Bob Lanier RC

1971-72 Topps Rick Barry RC #170

Widely considered one of the best of his era, Rick Barry was a dynamic scorer and well-rounded player. He was an eight-time NBA All-Star and four-time ABA All-Star during his impressive career. Barry was the 1966 Rookie of the Year and led the Oakland Oaks to the ABA title in 1969. He later helped the Golden State Warriors win the 1975 NBA title and was named the Finals MVP.

1970-71 Topps Rick Barry RC

1972-73 Topps Artis Gilmore RC #180

Artis Gilmore was another player that excelled in both the ABA and NBA, totaling 11 All-Star appearances, including six with the NBA and five with the ABA. Gilmore earned the ABA Rookie of the Year and league MVP in 1972, and took the Kentucky Colonels to the ABA title in 1975.  He also was named the 1975 ABA Playoffs MVP.

1972-73 Topps Artis Gilmore RC

1973-74 Topps Bob McAdoo RC #135

After starting his collegiate career at a community college in Indiana, Bob McAdoo joined Dean Smith at the Univeristy of North Carolina for one season. Taken second overall by the Buffalo Braves, McAdoo was named the 1973 NBA Rookie of the Year. At his peak, McAdoo was one of the best players in the league, winning the 1975 MVP and earning five NBA All-Star nods. Later in his career, McAdoo won NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982 and 1985.

1973-74 Topps Bob McAdoo RC

1974-75 Topps Bill Walton RC #39

Although he is not as decorated as many of the other HOF players, Bill Walton was a beast in college with UCLA and a dominant NBA player. He was taken first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1974 and had his best seasons with the Blazers and later with the Boston Celtics. Walton was only named an NBA All-Star twice, but he was the league MVP in 1978 and won two titles. Bill Walton was the Finals MVP during his title run with Portland in 1977 and was the Sixth Man of the Year with the 1986 NBA Champions, the Boston Celtics.

1974-75 Topps Bill Walton RC

1974-75 Topps George Gervin RC #196

Referencing his cool demeanor on the court, George "the Iceman" Gervin has one of the best nicknames in basketball history. Gervin was a nine-time All-Star in the NBA and a three-time ABA All-Star. Even without winning a title, Gervin made his mark on the league thanks to his trademark finger roll.

1974-75 Topps George Gervin RC

1975-76 Topps Moses Malone RC #254

Moses Malone might be one of the most undervalued and under-appreciated NBA players of all-time when it comes to to the collecting world. His only title came  in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers, but Malone was a 12-time NBA All-Star and two-time ABA All-star. He was also named the NBA MVP three times, and was the Finals MVP during his lone title run. Despite this, Malone's ungraded rookie cards can be easily found for under $25 and  most of his certified autograph cards go for less than $50.

1975-76 Topps Moses Malone RC

1976-77 Topps David Thompson RC #110

After taking NC State to the NCAA title in 1974, David Thompson was selected first overall in both the 1975 NBA and ABA drafts. He signed with the Denver Nuggets and was named the 1976 ABA Rookie of the Year. Thompson would go on to be named to one ABA All-Star team and four NBA All-Star teams. Even though he never won an NBA title, Thompson was one of the most athletic players of his time and was one of the first players to utilize the alley-oop pass.

1976-77 Topps David Thompson RC

1977-78 Topps Adrian Dantley RC #56

The 1977 NBA Rookie of the Year, Adrian Dantley could score on anyone, but had trouble sticking with any team for more than a few years. The six-time NBA All-Star led the league in scoring in 1981 and 1984.

1977-78 Topps Adrian Dantley RC

1977-78 Topps Robert Parish RC #111

Robert Parish played with several teams, but is mainly remembered from his time with the Boston Celtics. Parish won three titles and earned nine NBA All-Star appearances with the Celtics. He won one more title with the Bulls during his last season in 1997.

1977-78 Topps Robert Parish RC

1978-79 Topps Bernard King RC #75

Another elite scorer, Bernard King was a late entry to the Hall of Fame. The league scoring leader in 1985 was a four-time NBA All-Star, but injuries took their toll. King missed almost three entire seasons because of knee injuries and was finally forced to retire in 1993.

1978-79 Topps Bernard King RC

1978-79 Topps Dennis Johnson RC #78

Another player that is seemingly overlooked, Dennis Johnson is thought of as one of the greatest defenders in league history and was known for coming up big in important moments. Johnson passed away in 2007 and did not live to see his name enshrined in the HOF. Dennis Johnson was a three-time NBA Champion, winning one title in 1979 with the Seattle SuperSonics, where he was also named the Finals MVP, and two titles with Boston Celtics in 1984 and 1986. He was also a five-time NBA All-Star.

1978-79 Topps Dennis Johnson RC

1979-80 Topps Alex English RC #31

Rounding out the list, Alex English played for several teams during his career, but saw the most success with the Denver Nuggets. English was an eight-time NBA All-Star, all with the Nuggets, and also led the league in scoring in 1982-83. Even more impressive, Alex English was the top overall scorer of the 1980s.

1979-80 Topps Alex English RC

Top eBay Listings

1978 Royal Crown RC Cola Card Adrian Dantley LA Lakers Univ Notre Dame Spalding
$75.00

BILL WALTON HOF☆ROOKIE 1974-75 PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS BASKETBALL POCKET SCHEDULE
$5.01

1970 RC Pete Maravich #123 Card is GVG. Sold To Me:VG on ebay. See Detailed Pics
$119.00

1975 UTAH LEADERS W MOSES MALONE ROOKIE 4CT 3 NRMT-MT 1 NRMT SUPER NICE
$13.21

Rick Barry Rookie. 1972 Topps Basketball. #170. New York Nets. Golden State.
$9.00

1971 72 TOPPS BASKETBALL 181 DOUG MOE RC NM VIRGINIA SQUIRES ABA NBA ROOKIE CARD
$7.99

1971 72 TOPPS BASKETBALL 223 AL CUETO RC EX-NM MEMPHIS PROS GRIZZLIES ABA ROOKIE
$7.99

1971 72 TOPPS BASKETBALL 165 ZELMO BEATY ROOKIE EX-NM UTAH STARS JAZZ ABA NBA RC
$7.99

1969-1970 EARL MONROE Baltimore Bullets. Rookie #80 Topps Basketball
$37.00

1978 79 TOPPS BASKETBALL 78 DENNIS JOHNSON NM-MINT RC SEATTLE SUPERSONICS ROOKIE
$8.79

1978 79 TOPPS BASKETBALL #117 JACK SIKMA NM-MINT RC SEATTLE SUPERSONICS ROOKIE
$8.79

1978 79 TOPPS BASKETBALL #27 JAMES EDWARDS RC NM-MINT INDIANA PACERS ROOKIE
$7.19

1978 79 TOPPS BASKETBALL #126 MARQUES JOHNSON NM-MINT RC MILWAUKEE BUCKS ROOKIE
$7.19

1971-72 Topps #233 Red Robbins RC
$5.00

Nate (Tiny) Archibald, 1971 Topps, ROOKIE!! , EX.-NM. 6.5
$53.99

1970-71 TOPPS #13 PAT RILEY ROOKIE RC VG-EX OV1638
$14.99
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Trey Treutel

E-Mail Author | 
Trey Treutel is an Ole Miss grad and a lifelong sports fanatic. He is a huge fan of the NBA and NFL, as well as soccer, college basketball and college football. As a kid, he collected football and basketball cards. In more recent years he started collecting basketball cards again on a whim and has since expanded to other sports and entertainment options. Find Trey on Twitter at @datreute or Google+.

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