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Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide

Michael Jordan

Date of Birth: February 17, 1963

Rookie Card Year: 1986-87

Investment Rating: 10.0


When it comes to collecting, in the sports card and memorabilia market, few can rival Michael Jordan. His dominating style of play that led to six NBA championships and numerous personal awards was nothing short of legendary. It can be argued that Jordan single-handedly made the sport of basketball and the NBA the global phenomenon that it is today. No other player in the history of sports is more widely recognized around the world and as such his investment rating, when it comes to trading cards and memorabilia, is unparalleled.

His ability to crossover from the hardwood to pop culture has earned him a place in sports and American history held by few others. As a result, the value of his rookie cards and autographed memorabilia is tantamount to putting money in the bank. Transcending sports to become the face of numerous brands ensures that his popularity, legacy and fame will continue for years to come. Michael Jordan and the Upper Deck Company, which owns his rights for signed memorabilia, have carefully constructed and executed a strategy to make certain that the supply of his autographs never outstrips demand. As such, the value of his signed memorabilia continues to rise.

Michael Jordan's career started at a time before trading card manufacturers were able to produce multiple rookie cards of the same player. The benefit to collectors and fans is that Jordan has just three rookie cards. At the peak of their demand, prices for Michael Jordan rookie cards, set new records for modern trading cards. While prices have decreased by single-digit percentages from their heyday of the late-1990s, high-grade examples can still command tens of thousands of dollars on the secondary market.

Michael Jordan Rookie Card Guide

1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan RC #57

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 1

The 1986-87 Fleer card is the most sought-after of all Michael Jordan rookie cards. This is because it is his only NBA-licensed, standard-issue rookie card. It has repeatedly set and then re-raised the bar for modern era investment-quality sports cards. High-grade Michael Jordan Fleer rookie cards have repeatedly commanded six-figure sales prices at auction.

Featuring Jordan in a classic, poster-worthy dunk shot, the image defines the early part of his career where he gave new meaning to the term "playing above the rim",  The demand for this card in any grade is so great that the cost of unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer Basketball has skyrocketed to a level that is virtually unheard of for 1980s sports cards. One thing to watch for is counterfeit copies. Here's a guide to help you avoid buying a fake Michael Jordan rookie card.

1986-87 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan #8

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 2

Included in '86-87 Fleer packs as an insert, these sticker cards are a more affordable way to add a Michael Jordan rookie card to your collection. The stickers from this product are known for being severely miscut. When found in mint condition, they are well worth the expense of grading, which increases the card's value tremendously. Fleer had the insight to provide a different photo for the sticker version, making it a truly unique card. It also showcases a whole new dimension of Jordan's game—his uncanny ability to get to the basket.

1984-85 Star Company Michael Jordan XRC #101

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 3

Technically defined as an extended rookie card due to its limited distribution, the Star Co. Michael Jordan rookie card is very popular despite being non-traditional when it comes to the 1984-85 Star set's team-based format and regional availability. No matter what, it is relevant as the first Michael Jordan rookie card.

When trying to determine the authenticity of a Star Company Michael Jordan rookie card, there are distinct and noticeable differences to look for that are the tell-tale signs of a bogus card. Fakes are notorious for having a predominant left border and very little border on the right. In addition, on the card's reverse, counterfeited versions will show a slight color bleed along the edge of the card from the front. Reproductions have bolder colors and out-of-registry text in comparison to authentic copies.

More Michael Jordan Card Articles

In addition to the key cards covered below, explore even more Michael Jordan rookie cards and early releases in our detailed look at 1980s Michael Jordan cards.

You can also check out the Top Michael Jordan Cards of All-Time, Top Michael Jordan Insert Cards and a real-time list of the Hottest Michael Jordan Cards for sale.

If you want to move beyond his NBA cards, mix it up with the Top Michael Jordan Baseball Cards and Top MJ Golf Cards to collect.


Michael Jordan Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide

Below you will find examples of what an authentic Michael Jordan autograph looks like. Currently, the Upper Deck Company, is the sole rights holder of official Michael Jordan autographed memorabilia. Autographed items that are not specifically accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity (LOA) from Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA) should be avoided. 

Cut Signature Exemplar

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 4

Michael Jordan Key Signature Attributes: Although his signature varies from time to time, an authentic Michael Jordan signature will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics. Regardless of  the type of item or when it was signed, look for the following signature features:

  1. The exaggerated start and loop of the letter "M" form an abstract number "23", which was his jersey number
  2. Without lifting the pen, the letter "M" begins the rest of the letters in his first name, with only the small closed loop "l" being discernible
  3. The letter "J" is very unique with a closed bottom loop, open top loop and an extending flourish line at the top with a slight angle
  4. The remaining letters in his last name are merely a straight line at a similar angle as the above

Signed Basketball Pricing:

Active Listings for Michael Jordan Signed Basketballs

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 5

Signed Jersey Pricing:

Active Listings for Michael Jordan Signed Jerseys

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 6

Signed 8x10 Photo Pricing:

Active Listings for Michael Jordan Signed Photographs

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 7

Signed Shoe Pricing:

Active Listings for Michael Jordan Signed Sneakers

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 8


Michael Jordan Fan Shop Apparel and Souvenir Guide

While many athletes have been gifted with their own basketball shoes, very few have been responsible for the launch of entire brands. The Air Jordan, Jordan and Jumpman23 lines of shoes and apparel are some of the most iconic fashion brands in the entire industry, rivaling such notables as Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. With a full line of clothing that includes performance, casual and sportswear, there is no shortage of options to choose from.

Michael Jordan jersey's and shoes remain high on the list of collectible investments made by fans and collectors the world over. From his early years at the University of North Carolina, his glory years with the Chicago Bulls and his post-retirement comeback with the Washington Wizards, a full line of jersey's is available for the discerning fan or collector. Additionally, Jordan collectibles encompass a wide range of memorabilia including figures, artwork, posters photographs and more.

Michael Jordan Jerseys and Shoes

Manufacturer: Nike, Addidas, Champion, JORDAN

Adidas is currently the licensed provider of NBA jerseys. However, the league has also had licenses with Nike and Champion. Michael Jordan's North Carolina jersey is typically made by his own brand, JORDAN.

While Nike is the definitive source for Michael Jordan branded shoes and apparel, Adidas is the official supplier of jerseys for the NBA. The current, 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.

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 9  Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 10

For more on the history and evolution of the Air Jordan shoes and brand, read our guide here.

Michael Jordan Figures and Toys

Michael Jordan figures are available in a wide range of styles and prices. From toy figures to intricately detailed and handcrafted works of art, there is no shortage of choices and options. Whether you are shopping for a mere toy or a treasured keepsake, through the years several companies have produced figures of His Airness.

Manufacturers: Upper Deck, Starting Line-up, Mattel, Enterbay, Storm Toys

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 11

Michael Jordan Photographs, Prints and Artwork

When you play larger than life, becoming a legend while you're still on an active NBA roster, you can rest assured you will be the subject of numerous photographers and artists. Such is the case for Michael Jordan. From pictures to posters, lithographs, prints and original artwork, the sky's the limit for imagery of the greatest basketball player to ever live. With pieces available for any budget, decorating your man-cave is as limitless as your imagination. Official NBA licensed material is available from a wide variety of vendors. Some of the primary ones are listed below.

Rights Holders: Mounted Memories, Getty Images, Nike, Upper Deck

Michael Jordan Card and Memorabilia Buying Guide 12

More Info

Michael Jordan is the single most collected athlete in the world, bridging all manner of language, socioeconomic and geographical barriers. As such we have barely scratched the surface in this player collecting profile. Find out more in-depth information on the specific type of Michael Jordan cards, collectibles and/or fan gear you're interested in by browsing our featured guides and resources below:

Michael Jordan Basketball Card Guides

Autographed Cards Guide

More Trading Card Guides

Air Jordan Shoe Guide

Other Michael Jordan Collecting Guides

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Rob is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff and co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio.He is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby.

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