When talking about the most popular basketball cards in the hobby, it is hard not to mention one of the many Michael Jordan inserts. During MJ's rise to stardom, the basketball collecting world was a much different place than it is now. The no-frills, no-thrills style of the late-'80s and early-'90s products gave way to the insert craze of the mid-to-late 90s. Cardmakers went through an unprecedented era of experimentation with new card technologies, adding further intrigue to the chase. These factors helped make Michael Jordan the undisputed king of the cardboard.
Despite his retirement nearly two decades ago, Michael Jordan cards, especially his limited inserts from the middle-to-end of the 1990s, have taken off. For many cards, the values continue to climb. Several of the most popular inserts have even been brought back for a new generation of collectors with their usage in the Fleer Retro brand. Throwback sets like this, combined with the original Michael Jordan inserts, make it a certainty that these cards will continue to help drive the hobby.
The following list aims to catalog some of the best Michael Jordan inserts from his active playing career. While many collectors look to the Michael Jordan rookie card as the best overall card option, MJ inserts tend to fill in the rest of the lineup. Given the sheer volume of popular Michael Jordan insert cards, several constraints were added, with the main one being no base parallels. Therefore, cards like PMGs (Precious Metal Gems) and Topps Refractors were not included on this list despite their importance to basketball collecting and the hobby in general. Michael Jordan autographs and memorabilia cards were also left out of the guide.
For some of his best autographs, check out the Top 23 Michael Jordan Cards List or the Ultimate Michael Jordan Exquisite Collection Drool Gallery.
You can also view some of the most popular 1990s Michael Jordan cards currently at auction on eBay.
Is there another MJ insert in your collection that deserves a spot on the list? Let us know in the comments.
Top Michael Jordan Inserts of the 1980s and 1990s
1986-87 Fleer Stickers Michael Jordan #8
One of the first Michael Jordan inserts, these stickers are actually not too difficult to pull. Overall they fall one per pack with just 11 different stickers in the set. However, popularity and time have pushed the values up for this card and it remains highly desirable. It also helps that the insert was found in the set with the Michael Jordan rookie card—1986-87 Fleer Basketball.
1992-93 Stadium Club Beam Team Michael Jordan #1
Beam Team is one of the least valuable Michael Jordan inserts on this list but its relevance is felt in the attention it received from collectors when it first emerged. The laser show border design pays tribute to the popular NBA halftime show that ran during the second half of the 1992-93 season. Collectors should be aware that there is a "Members Only" version that was sold as a set and is distinguished by a "Members Only" watermark.
Regular Beam Team cards fall every 1:36 packs of 1992-93 Stadium Club Basketball. With 21 cards in the set, finding MJ is tougher than it seems.
1993-94 Fleer Ultra Scoring Kings Michael Jordan #5
One of the more unappreciated MJ inserts, 1993-94 Fleer Ultra Scoring Kings utilizes foil and a post-shot image of Michael Jordan to present a classic but powerful design. Plus, who doesn't like huge lightning bolts? This electric card could normally be pulled from a modest 360 packs once you factor in the 1:36 odds for the 10-card set.
1995-96 Flair Hot Numbers Michael Jordan #4
Arguably one of the ugliest Michael Jordan inserts, 3D or otherwise, Flair Hot Numbers is proof that Jordan can make anything valuable. Still, looking back, it does have some '90s charm even if the design feels very dated.
1995-96 Hoops SkyView Michael Jordan #SV1
To say this card is rare would be an understatement. With cards from the 10-card set dropping around 1:480 packs, this Michael Jordan insert does not come up often. However, the cut-out image of Jordan is more reminiscence of an alien than the greatest basketball player of all-time. That's really the only strike against it.
1996-97 E-X2000 A Cut Above Michael Jordan #5
Although die-cuts had been a common feature in card design for decades, 1996-97 E-X2000 A Cut Above shows how unique and intricate this process has become. Like many of the Michael Jordan inserts, this card is not a common pull. Stated odds for the 10-card set are 1:288 packs, which means this Jordan card only comes around every 2,880 packs.
1996-97 Flair Showcase Hot Shots Michael Jordan #1
Another interesting die-cut design, Flair Hot Numbers resembles the look of a basketball on fire. This distinct card has long been a collector favorite. With odds of 1:90 packs, the card prices may seem high but the checklist features 20 cards, so the Michael Jordan card only falls 1:1,800 packs.
1996-97 Metal Net-Rageous Michael Jordan #5
Borderline obnoxious, Michael Jordan's Net-Rageous insert does not go quietly into the night. The heavy use of green forms a bizarre background and is combined with a font that evokes memories of airbrushed t-shirts. This is yet another tough pull at 1:2,880 packs.
1996-97 SkyBox Z-Force Big Men on Court Michael Jordan #4
Loud and proud, Michael Jordan's Big Men on the Court card is one of the most defining inserts of the era. It walks the line of being cartoonish while still managing to work. Known to collectors simply as BMOC, the Jordan version falls at 1:2,400 packs. In addition, a very rare "Z-Peat" parallel features a chrome finish and almost impossible odds of 1:11,200 packs.
1997-98 E-X2001 Jambalaya Michael Jordan #6
There are Jordan inserts and then there is the 1997-98 E-X2001 Jambalaya. Arguably the most popular Michael Jordan insert of all-time, when this card surfaces, huge dollar amounts follow. The value can be directly attributed to the extreme rarity of the card, which sits at 1:10,800 packs.
1997-98 Metal Universe Platinum Portrait Michael Jordan #1
While it is a difficult insert to locate, it's the unique design that puts this card high on many wish lists. 1997-98 Metal Universe Platinum Portraits use small holes to achieve a pixelated profile shot of Michael Jordan and the all-silver color scheme gives the impression of a metal card. You can expect to open at least 4,320 packs to pull one of these rare cards.
1997-98 Metal Universe Championship Hardware Michael Jordan #5
Gold? Check. Jordan? Check. Valuable insert? Check! Sometimes that is all it takes to make a winning card. A full-color image of Jordan is set against a washed-out gold foil background, making for a nice-looking card. Similar to almost every card on the list, Jordan's Championship hardware card is another very rare Michael Jordan insert. This particular card can be found at around 1:5,400 packs.
1997-98 SkyBox Premium Golden Touch Michael Jordan #GT1
The 1997-98 SkyBox Premium Golden Touch is not the first version of this insert but it is certainly the rarest. Dropping at 1:5,400 packs, this Michael Jordan die-cut insert card also makes good use of a gold color scheme.
1997-98 Ultra Court Masters Michael Jordan #CM1
Michael Jordan's 1997-98 Ultra Court Masters insert utilizes a background with a hardwood court effect and dual images of Jordan. While the card itself feels a little cluttered, the idea is appreciated. Collectors have certainly taken notice of this rare card that falls 1:2,880 packs.
1997-98 Ultra Stars Michael Jordan #1
Michael Jordan is the ultimate example of an NBA star and this insert aims to acknowledge that with a silver star background. If this rare card (1:2,880 packs) does not have enough of a wow factor, there's an even rarer parallel that has a multi-color gold finish. The appropriately named Ultra Stars Gold parallel represents only 10 percent of the entire print run.
1998-99 E-X Century Dunk 'N Go Nuts Michael Jordan #15
Dunkin Donuts has the word "dunk" in it. Basketball players regularly perform dunks. I get it. Collectors do, too, as this popular card sells quite well despite appearing at a rather reasonable 1:720 packs.
1998-99 Fleer Tradition Playmakers Theatre Michael Jordan #9 #/100
Michael Jordan's 1998-99 Fleer Tradition Playmakers Theatre card is a very special insert. This is not only because of it's rarity, but also due to the fact that it is serially numbered to just 100 copies. The card design is actually quite ornate and makes good use of the gold foil and embossing. Collectors should be aware that there are versions that are not numbered and not embossed. These other cards, which were not inserted in packs, are not nearly as valuable.
1998-99 SkyBox Thunder Noyz Boyz Michael Jordan #9
1998-99 SkyBox Thunder Noyz Boyz is a unique die-cut in the same vein as Big Man on Court. Despite questionable spelling choices, this Michael Jordan insert card gets a lot of attention and is hard to find at around 1:4,500 packs.
1998-99 NBA Hoops Bams Michael Jordan #1 #/250
The only other serially numbered card on the list is the 1998-99 Hoops Bams card is limited to 250 copies. The card features three separate images of Jordan in an admittedly convoluted design. A more limited "Slam Bams" parallel features a gold finish and is numbered to 100.
1998-99 Ultra Exclamation Points Michael Jordan #6
Last, but certainly not least, Michael Jordan's Exclamation Points insert features a removable case that is still part of the card design and gives the card two distinct looks. This limited Michael Jordan insert can be found at a rate of 1:4,320 packs.