Rookie Card Year: 2003-04
Investment Rating: 9.0
With Michael Jordan's retirement, LeBron James cards and memorabilia breathed new life into market. He's the headliner in 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite, the hobby's first $500 per pack product. Accompanied by fellow rookies Carmelo Anthony and current teammate Dwayne Wade, Exquisite redefined the standards for a high-end trading card product. It's by far James' most coveted rookie card. However, the extensive checklist of LeBron James rookie cards has dozens of options to meet the budget of any collector.
For several years, Lebron James has had an exclusive autograph and memorabilia agreement with Upper Deck. Although he is featured in Panini sets today, Upper Deck still holds the sole rights to market and sell his autographs.
Top 3 LeBron James Rookie Cards
LeBron James' debut came at a time when there were three companies making licensed NBA cards: Upper Deck, Topps and Fleer. As a result, James has nearly 50 rookie cards, including many with autographs. Price points vary considerably. Below are the Top Three LeBron James rookie cards, one at each price range: entry level, mid-range and high-end.
Numbered to 999 copies, this LeBron James rookie card is a comparably affordable option to some of his other first cards. Featuring an intricately designed card front, it pictures LeBron making a layup and a reflective hologram image in the "R" as part of the Rookie Reflections subset.
With just 200 total cards, this is one of LeBron James' rarest rookie cards without an autograph or memorabilia. The card depicts James in a full-length, posed action shot against a blue and red background. An iconic stance of the young baller, ready to drive to the hoop.
The 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite LeBron James rookie card helped to usher in a whole new era of trading cards. The first $500 per pack product, it's limited to only 99 serial numbered copies. This makes the card extremely costly, particularly when graded. Commanding four figures on the secondary market, this is LeBron's most iconic and expensive card.
LeBron James Rookie Card Checklist
Budget Rookie Cards
- 2003-04 Bazooka #223 (2 cards)
- 2003-04 Black Diamond #184
- 2003-04 Bowman #123
- 2003-04 E-X #102
- 2003-04 Fleer Authentix #104 #/1250
- 2003-04 Fleer Showcase # 130 #/1000
- 2003-04 Fleer Tradition #261
- 2003-04 Hoops Hot Prospects #112 #/1000
- 2003-04 Topps #221
- 2003-04 Topps Contemporary Collection #1
- 2003-04 Topps Jersey Edition #LJ
- 2003-04 Topps Pristine #101
- 2003-04 Upper Deck #301
- 2003-04 Upper Deck MVP #201
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Rookie Exclusives #1
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Standing O #85
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Triple Dimensions #132 #/999
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Victory #101
Mid-Range Rookie Cards
- 2003-04 Bowman Chrome # 123
- 2003-04 Bowman Signature Edition # 56 #/1250
- 2003-04 Flair #94 #/500
- 2003-04 Flair Final Edition #75 #/ 799
- 2003-04 Fleer Avant #65 #/699
- 2003-04 Fleer Focus #137 #/499
- 2003-04 Fleer Genuine Insider #104 #/499
- 2003-04 Fleer Mystique #99 #/999
- 2003-04 Fleer Patchworks #105 #/799
- 2003-04 Fleer Platinum # 183 #/750
- 2003-04 Finest #133 #/999
- 2003-04 Skybox Autographics #77 #/1500
- 2003-04 SP Game Used #107 #/999
- 2003-04 SP Signature Edition #101 #/499
- 2003-04 Topps Chrome #111
- 2003-04 Topps Rookie Matrix (multiple cards)
- 2003-04 UD Glass #100 #/250
- 2003-04 Ultra #171 #/500
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Finite #242 #/200
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Hardcourt #132 #/799
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Honor Roll #106 Jersey #/499
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Legends #135 #/999
- 2003-04 Upper Deck Sweet Shot #91 #/799
Premium Rookie Cards
LeBron James Autograph Memorabilia Buying Guide
In this section, you will find examples of what an authentic Lebron James autograph looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. LeBron James autographs are an exclusive part of the Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA) collection. Click on any of the images below to view full size photos.
Cut Signature Signature Exemplar
The above is a signature from Lebron's days with the Cleveland Cavaliers
The above signature reflects the change he made when joining the Miami Heat
LeBron James Key Signature Attributes: An authentic LeBron James signature will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics, depending on when in his career the item was signed. Other characteristics that play into his signature style are the particular item and venue. Look for the following signature features:
- First name consists of the letter "L" and "B" only
- The letters "L" and "B" combine two form the number 23, his jersey number with the Cavaliers
- The letter "J" is pronounced with a large flourishing upper loop and much smaller bottom loop
- The remaining letters of his last name merely a scribble with no discernible legibility
- When LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami, he also changed jersey numbers. As a result, gone is his signature 23 combination from the letters "L" and "B".
- The new signature loses the last name entirely
- The initial "L" and "B" are exaggerated with big loops
- His new jersey number, "#6" is almost always present
Signed Basketball Pricing
Signed Jersey Pricing
Signed Shoe Pricing
Signed Photograph Pricing
LeBron James Fan Shop Apparel and Souvenir Guide
LeBron James' jersey's and shoes are highly coveted by fans the world over. From his high school playing for St. Vincent - St. Mary's to his early years with the Cleveland Cavaliers and his championship run with the Miami Heat and Cavs, James has a full line of jersey's available for every fan or collector. In addition, James' collectibles include a wide range of fan shop items and other memorabilia - figures, artwork, posters photographs and more.
Jerseys and Shoes
Manufacturer: Nike, Adidas, Champion
Adidas is currently the licensed provider of NBA jerseys. However, the league has also had licenses with Nike and Champion. LeBron James' St. Vincent - St. Mary's jersey is typically made by Nike.
Adidas's full line of officially licensed NBA jerseys are available in three different styles. The Replica jersey is a lightweight polyester mesh fabric with screen printed lettering and numbers and is perfect for casual everyday wear. The Swingman jersey is a step up in quality and features a similar style fabric but features twill lettering and numbers. The Authentic jersey is made of a heavier weight polyester and is designed with patented ClimaCool technology for outstanding performance. It also features an embroidered NBA patch and twill letters and numbers and is as close as you will get to the real deal.
Much like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant before him, LeBron James also has a full line of shoes made by Nike.
Figures and Toys
When you are as highly touted, talented and personable as LeBron James is, you can be assured that there will be numerous companies wanting to honor him with their own version of 3D likenesses. Such is the case for James who has numerous figures and toys on the market to meet the needs of fans of any age.
Manufacturers: McFarlane, Upper Deck, EnterBay
- Shop for Lebron James Figures
Photographs, Prints and Posters
When you play above the rim with the dominating size and speed of LeBron James, sports photographers tend to notice. As a result, he has a wide variety of photographs, prints, lithographs, posters and even original artwork available to decorate any man-cave, office or bedroom. Notable rights holders listed below.
Rights-Holders: Upper Deck, PhotoFile, Panini, Fathead
- Shop for Lebron James Photographs & More
Want to learn more about LeBron James cards and memorabilia? Check out these additional articles and guides:
- 50 Hottest LeBron James Basketball Cards
- Top 10 LeBron James Rookie Cards
- Don't Overlook These LeBron James Rookie Cards
- Complete History of Nike LeBron James Shoe Line
For general information and player statistics visit: