Rookie Card Year: 1980-81
Investment Rating: 7.5
Earvin "Magic" Johnson was one of the first true basketball superstars. His college and pro battles with Larry Bird combined with his individual and team success with the "Showtime" era of Los Angeles Lakers, made him one of the most popular basketball players of the last few decades. Because of this, Magic Johnson cards and memorabilia are among the top retired player options for basketball collectors.
Magic Johnson played college basketball for Michigan State and quickly developed a fierce rivalry with Larry Bird and Indiana State. Johnson would take MSU to the NCAA title in 1979 and declared for the draft soon after. The Los Angeles Lakers made him the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft.
While the effects of HIV robbed him of the end of his career, Johnson still put up Hall of Fame numbers. He was a 12-time All-Star, two-time All-Star MVP, three-time regular season MVP, five-time NBA Champion and three time NBA Finals MVP. He also won a gold medal with the original Dream Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Although Johnson retired following the 1990-91 season, he returned to the Lakers, first as a coach at the end of the 1993-94 season, and then as a player for a portion of the 1995-96 season. He retired for good after the Lakers were bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Magic Johnson was named a member of the 50th NBA Anniversary All-Time Team and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
In terms of card collecting, Magic Johnson ranks high on the list of former players. His instant recognition and continued affiliation with the NBA, as well as his ownership role with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has kept him in the forefront.
Magic Johnson Cards
One of the top rookie cards of in the history of basketball collecting, the 1980-81 Topps rookie card also happens to include the rookie card for Larry Bird, with Julius Erving in the middle. This trio provides a Hall of Fame experience that few rookie cards can match.
Collectors are not just limited to this pricey rookie card, as three other multi-player cards found in 1980-81 Topps feature Magic Johnson, including:
- #66 - #178 Maurice Cheeks, #18 Magic Johnson, #237 Ron Boone
- #111 - #88 John Long, #18 Magic Johnson, #237 Ron Boone
- #146 - #162 Jan Van Breda Kolff, #174 Julius Erving, #139 Magic Johnson
The final card is the most appealing, as it features two-thirds of the main rookie and includes the same images and spots for Johnson and Julius Erving.
Magic Johnson Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Magic Johnson's authentic signature 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. Reputable authentication companies include JSA, PSA, Panini Authentic and Mounted Memories, to name a few.
Magic Johnson Cut Signature Exemplar
Magic Johnson Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Magic Johnson signature autograph 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:
- The signature beings with a large "M" that transitions into a third hump with a line to showcase an uppercase "A".
- The line from the "A" continues to form the "G", although it more resembles a large uppercase "P".
- From there, the signature reverts to cursive, finishing with a lowercase "i-c". The "i" is not dotted.
- The last name is greatly shortened and can resemble a large cursive "U" or "J-e".