He may not get his full coverage standing in the shadow of LeBron James, but Kyrie Irving leads the way among the new crop of elite point guards in the NBA. The Duke alum is already one of the most popular young stars in the league and Kyrie Irving rookie cards continue to push higher based on his success.
The first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Irving was the league's Rookie of the Year. When LeBron James left for Miami, Irving became the face of the franchise. When James returned a few years later, the two helped bring an NBA title to Cleveland and Irving was particularly impressive during the playoff run.
It was a long time coming for official Kyrie Irving rookie cards. With the lockout shortening the 2011-12 NBA season, Panini opted to go with a double-rookie class in their 2012-13 products. That meant an extra year for the first Kyrie Irving rookies to hit the market.
Collectors can find 2012-13 Kyrie Irving rookie cards at all price points, including autographs and memorabilia cards. Irving does have a couple of cards produced in 2011-12, although they are not considered official rookies. These are highlighted below along with all of the official Kyrie Irving rookie cards.
Kyrie Irving Rookie Card Guide
Click on the card listings or images below to shop for singles on eBay. Liked products in the descriptions go directly to detailed product profiles.
Like NBA Hoops, 2012-13 Panini offers a straight-forward option for collectors. Although printed with a little higher quality than the Hoops card, prices should remain fairly low.
Headlined by an on-card signature and a low print run, the 2012-13 Panini Absolute Kyrie Irving rookie card is one of his most popular. Like several of his rookie cards, it was originally available via redemption.
2012-13 Panini Brilliance Basketball offers collectors a mid-level look for a budget price. Collectors who enjoy foil or embossing will be especially impressed by this rookie card.
Although 2012-13 Panini Contenders Basketball abandoned the Rookie Ticket concept, one of the set's highlights remain the abundant rookie autographs. Although inserted in packs as a redemption, it didn't take too long for redeemed cards to surface.
The 2012-13 Crusade rookie card for Kyrie Irving does not offer much to collectors. A large white background includes a light sketch of wings behind an image of Irving. Although it is not a true rookie, the Crusade insert and additional color parallels have emerged as a more popular alternative.
The main draw on the 2012-13 Panini Elite Kyrie Irving is its serial number. Limited to 599 copies, it hovers in that nice area of being available but not too readily so. The lack of autograph should keep the price reasonable over the long-term. It's one of the better options for those who don't have the budget or desire to chase after high-end rookie cards.
Arguably the most refined design, 12-13 Elite Series offers collectors a Kyrie Irving rookie card with class. The limited print run of 249 should keep values strong in the unsigned market.
Flawless took the collecting world by storm and even the non-signed base cards produced big values. This Kyrie Irving rookie card is limited to 20 and features an embedded diamond.
While the 2012-13 Gold Standard rookie for Kyrie Irving includes both a an on-card signature and jersey piece, the lack of numbering might be a blessing for budget collectors and a curse for high-end collectors. Either way, the ornate card is an appealing option.
2012-13 Panini Immaculate Collection Kyrie Irving RC #101 Autographed Jersey #/99
2012-13 Immaculate is another high-end choice for Kyrie Irving rookie collectors and it features an impressive design. The on-card signature, patch piece and low print run also make it one of his most expensive options.
At this point, acetate is hardly innovative, but the 2012-13 Panini Innovation Kyrie Irving rookie does present a nice alternative. Adding to the this, a lower print run insures that values will remain solid.
Another redemption, Irving's 2012-13 Panini Intrigue rookie does not feature the best design. The card showcases a horizontal layout, crowded autograph space and small circle jersey piece. Still, limited to just 199 via redemption and pairing a jersey and signature, this is one that tends to float under the radar and is a better value as far as the signed Kyrie Irving rookie cards.
The 2012-13 Panini Limited Kyrie Irving rookie card comes in packs as a redemption. The actual card features a die-cut acetate design meant to look like the NBA's Rookie of the Year trophy. The unique design, on-card autograph and low numbering combine to make one of Irving's top rookies.
2012-13 Panini Marquee Basketball has no shortage of rookie cards. Kyrie Irving has five different base cards in the set, all of which are distinct from one another. Card #161 uses an effect Panini dubbed Swirlorama. #241 is done on Black Holoboard. Die-cut lettering is the highlight of #321. The most popular cards in the set are the Leather rookies. Irving is #401. Finally, there's #471, which uses a plastic card stock.
With a plain design and low price, the 2012-13 Panini Momentum rookie card for Kyrie Irving is great card for base collectors. It would also be an ideal option for in-person autographs.
National Treasures is consistently among the top high-end cards and the 2012-13 Kyrie Irving rookie card is no exception. Numbered to 199, the Irving cards features one of the largest print runs of any NT rookie cards in their short basketball existence. The simple design, large patch and on-card signature make this a clear winner.
The first official Kyrie Irving rookie card on the market, it will also be one of the most affordable. 2012-13 NBA Hoops is an entry-level brand aimed at broad audiences. While the card may never bring huge dollars, it still boasts an attractive design with a nice action photo. For those looking for a chase, the 2012-13 NBA Hoops Kyrie Irving autograph parallel moves very well on the secondary market.
As the name suggests, 2012-13 Panini Past & Present gives off a retro vibe. For Kyrie Irving collectors, that means his rookie card is about as straightforward as it comes. As a result, it's a sharp-looking but very affordable option.
2012-13 Panini Preferred Kyrie Irving RC #327 Autographed Jersey #/99, #409 Autograph #/79 CR, #509 Autograph #/25 PC
Collectors are treated to multiple autographed Kyrie Irving rookie cards in 2012-13 Panini Preferred. The different versions include Rookie Silhouettes (#/99), Crown Royale Die-Cut (#/79), and Panini's Choice Red (#/25). While any of the group would make a great addition, the first card, Rookie Silhouettes, have emerged as a top card and the prime version has yielded some impressive sales.
The 2012-13 Panini Prestige Kyrie Irving rookie card is another simple but attractive option. It doesn't rely on numbering, an autograph, memorabilia swatch or other selling points. Rather, it's all about the clean design and popularity of the set itself. It will likely never command huge sums, making it accessible to collectors with any budget. Like NBA Hoops, autographs and rare parallels provide the chase.
Most are likening 2012-13 Panini Prizm as the company's spin on Topps Chrome. The chromium design is the star here. This should be one of the top Kyrie Irving rookie card options outside of the high-end autographs and low-numbered cards. Refractor-like Prizms parallels are also popular.
2012-13 Select Basketball has a pair of high-end Kyrie Irving rookie cards. One is an autograph. The other has an autograph and a jersey swatch. Both are numbered to 149.
With a name like Panini Signatures, it may seem bizarre that rookie players are featured on ten cards, and none of those are autographs. Although the design for each card is the same, the images of Kyrie Irving are different and each version is numbered to 25.
A great option for new collectors or kids, the rookie card in Panini NBA Stickers includes a simple design with a large image of Kyrie Irving.
The 2012-13 Panini Threads Kyrie Irving rookie card comes autographed. What makes it more unique is that it's printed on wood card stock. The result is a striking look unlike any of the guard's other early cards.
Part of the Glass Rookies subset in 2012-13 Panini Timeless Treasures, Kyrie Irving's rookie comes numbered to 399. Although a bit of a short print, it's still one of his more plentiful autographed rookies. The autographed sticker is displayed with a clear window, making it visible from both the front and back.
Totally Certified's etched foil design is definitely one of the hobby's most distinct. It might not be for everyone, but it has a strong following. Without the inclusion of a signature, memorabilia swatch or serial number, the 2012-13 card should remain affordable for the foreseeable future.
Other Early Kyrie Irving Cards of Note
Because Panini opted not to include rookies in their 2011-12 products due to the lockout-shortened season, Kyrie Irving's main release from his first season was a promo. Given to attendees at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention, it was part of Panini's VIP set. The sets were included in goodie bags provided to those who paid for the premium admission. Usually, these convention promos are met with mixed results on the secondary market. But because of the lack of rookie options in 2011-12, this Irving card has really caught on.
The 2011 Panini Rated Rookie Kyrie Irving wasn't available to the general public. Rather, it was handed out at an Ohio basketball camp the guard hosted in November, 2011. The card is extremely rare and is considered one of Irving's most important pre-rookie cards.
Autographed rookie redemptions came inserted in boxes of 2011-12 Panini Gold Standard Basketball. The redemption cards were not assigned a name until a random draft was held. Those lucky collectors who had pulled the Irving redemption had a decent wait, but the XRC Kyrie Irving cards are now live and include an on-card signature and iridescent finish.
Like the Gold Standard card, 2011-12 Panini Limited autograph redemptions randomly assigned at the start of the 2012-13 NBA campaign.
Original article by Ryan Cracknell.