Earvin "Magic" Johnson is one of the greatest players in NBA history and Magic Johnson cards remain one of the top collecting options amongst retired NBA players. The Hall of Fame guard is a five-time NBA Champion, but he is remembered by many for his long-time rivalry with Larry Bird. Dating back to their college days, Magic and Michigan State frequently squared off against Bird and Indiana State, producing many exciting games. They continued their intense rivalry in the NBA, with Bird and the Boston Celtics and Magic and the LA Lakers meeting many times in the playoffs.
Outside of basketball, Magic Johnson is also known for his public battle with HIV. This kept him in the spotlight even after he hung up his sneakers, and he became a source of inspiration for many. Currently, Magic Johnson provides NBA analysis and is also a minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While there are plenty of Magic Johnson cards available to collectors, most fall during the dead card era of the late-80s and early-90s. Nearly all of his autographed and limited cards were released after 2000. There are still many great options across all budgets and the following list documents ten of the best cards for collectors.
Top 10 Magic Johnson Cards
There is a reason why this card remains relevant after all these years. It would have been a popular rookie card if it just featured Magic Johnson. But it also happens to feature the rookie card of another Hall of Fame player, Larry Bird. Julius Erving rounds out the trio, making it one star-studded card. Few early basketball cards carry more clout than this gem, which is why it is the most popular option among all Magic Johnson cards.
The MJ that carries this product is not Magic Johnson, but this iconic set features a Hall of Fame checklist and Johnson is one of the many strong names. The timeless design and great popularity makes this one of the top Magic Johnson cards.
These inserts fall one per pack and have proven to be quite valuable. The Magic Johnson sticker card offers a nice contrast to the more colorful base version.
Despite coming as a redemption, this card was ahead of its time and showcases on-card autographs from Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Pairing signatures of the two long-time rivals, this rare card is tough to track down. This feat is more difficult based on counterfeiting issues.
Although he retired before the start of the 1991-92 season, Magic once again joined the NBA for the 1995-96 season. His return to the NBA only lasted one season, but it allowed a whole new world of options to open for Magic Johnson card collectors. While this is not a high dollar card, Finest has consistently put out some popular cards and they are a solid option for budget collectors. Refractor parallel cards provide a nice chase element.
Exquisite owned the high-end NBA basketball card market from 2003-04 to 2009-10. The premium cards from those products continue to sell well and the inclusion of players like Magic Johnson is part of the reason why. Although the main draw is the rookie cards from LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, Magic Johnson would make a great consolation prize.
Also from Exquisite, Limited Logos has emerged as a preferred destination for collectors and the reason is quite apparent. Featuring an on-card auto, nice patch and low print run, these rare cards also carry the hard-earned prestige of the Exquisite brand.
2004-05 SP Signature Edition Triple Authentic Signatures Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Magic Johnson #/25
In a clear nod to their historic pairing on the 1980-81 Topps card, SP Signature Edition brings the Bird, Erving and Johnson trio to on-card autograph heaven. Limited to just 25 copies, this card is a great option for high-end collectors.
Panini Preferred is still a newer product, but in 2012-13, it appears that Panini has quickly perfected the formula. Silhouette Signatures are the clear favorites, but this is not limited to just the popular rookie options. Panini also paid homage to the greats and former greats of the NBA, including Magic Johnson. With a print run of 10, plus 8 more "prime" versions, these are not easy to locate. However, the card design is beautiful and the on-card autograph and oversized patch help to cement its place among the top Magic Johnson cards. Also, Magic Johnson cards from the Panini's Choice and the Preferred base autograph subset feature on-card autographs and are also very popular.
Despite being college-licensed, as opposed to NBA-licensed, this premium card from Upper Deck remains a popular Magic Johnson card. With an on-card autograph, limited print run and clean retro design, this card contains all the elements needed for a successful card. There are actually seven versions of this card, each numbered to 50, with the obvious difference being the main image used.
Related Topics: Basketball Cards: Guides