There are very few things in the hobby that command as much attention as Michael Jordan cards. However, base cards tend to take a backseat in the hobby today. Fancy inserts, memorabilia cards and autographs dominate the collecting landscape. Michael Jordan is a unique superstar who forms a bridge between old-school and new-school. His popularity has been a huge boost for the hobby that saw it's rise through the insert years of the late-1990s and into the current age of sets focused largely on autographs and relic cards. While base cards are commonly overlooked by collectors, and, unfortunately, card companies, Michael Jordan base cards still attract attention, no matter the format.
For many, base cards represent that one last affordable aspect of the hobby. They are no longer the driving force behind many products, but a well-designed base card can make a great addition to any collection. It also provides a reasonable starting point for young collectors and collectors with limited budgets. Because of this, Michael Jordan base cards are the right balance of star power, relative value, and availability to build a collection around.
See Also: Real-Time Michael Jordan Card Hot List.
This following list aims to identify some of the top Michael Jordan base cards available today.
Top Michael Jordan Base Cards to Collect
1987-88 Fleer Michael Jordan #59
Michael Jordan's sophomore offering from Fleer is not nearly as popular or famous as his rookie card from '86-87 Fleer, but it still remains a great option for collectors. The print run for 1987-88 Fleer Basketball was much lower than the previous year, which helps keep prices up for unopened boxes and cards. Like many of the cards from this period, condition plays a huge role in value. Gem Mint copies push well into the thousands.
1988-89 Fleer Michael Jordan #17
Despite featuring another stacked rookie card lineup, 1988-89 Fleer Basketball did not produce the same magic as 1986-87 Fleer. The card design is awkward, at best, and features too many different fonts. Also, the image choice for the Michael Jordan base card is bizarre. It looks like he is performing a karate move on Kevin Willis while sneezing.
1992-93 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #23
This card is classic "Air Jordan." The Michael Jordan craze was sweeping the world as the Chicago Bulls pushed for their first NBA Championship three-peat, and Jordan was the king of the NBA. In my opinion, this is one of the best action images of Michael Jordan on any card.
1994-95 Topps Finest Michael Jordan #331
Finest had already established itself as the gold standard product for bright colors and shiny coating the year before, and 1994-95 Topps Finest Basketball did not disappoint. Boasting a rainbow sunbeam background, this Michael Jordan base card remains a popular card for collectors, especially the Refractors, which bring big bucks.
Also worth noting, Jordan is not wearing his usual number 23 jersey. This is because he retired from basketball in 1993 to pursue his baseball career and his number was retired by the Bulls.
When he returned to the NBA during the second half of the 1994-95 season, Jordan took the number 45 jersey for the rest of the year. The #45 jersey was important to him because it was the number worn by his brother, Larry Jordan. Michael Jordan also wore number 45 while playing professional baseball.
If you prefer the #23 jersey, Jordan comes in 1993-94 Finest with his normal jersey number.
1994-95 Flair Michael Jordan #326
1994-95 Flair Basketball helped usher in a new era of cards with their elegant design and high-quality stock. The dual images of Jordan are highlighted by gold foil font. I still remember my excitement after pulling one of the beauties, back in the day. This card also features Jordan wearing his #45 jersey.
1996-97 E-X2000 Michael Jordan #9
E-X2000 was a game-changer. The innovative design was futuristic and unique. It turned an insert design into a base set and showed how card companies could make products that were outside the box, without losing the basic card feel. However, it was also extremely condition-sensitive and many of the cards have not fared well over time. The Michael Jordan base card showcases a vivid blue sky background, complete with clouds. This blue works well with the gold foil frame and makes for a great card.
1997 SPx Michael Jordan #5
Another solid use of technology, 1997 SPx features an interesting "X" die-cut design and a large hologram image of Jordan. It was ahead of its time and also showcases the UD style that really began to dominate the basketball card world heading into the 2000s.
Jordan also has a promo version marked as "Sample" on the back.
1998-99 SPx Finite Michael Jordan #1 #/10000
One of the first numbered base cards, SPx Finite has a grand look and features dark colors and foil. Despite a whopping print run of 10,000 copies, this card still maintains solid interest from collectors. It also has a Sample version.
2000-01 Ultimate Collection Michael Jordan #8 #/750
Perhaps one of the most intense images of Jordan, 2000-01 Ultimate Collection is limited to 750 copies. A simple layout with a gold ribbon down the middle helps draw attention to the image of Michael Jordan, preparing to unload a ferocious dunk.
2003-04 Exquisite Michael Jordan #3 #/225
In terms of the highest value, almost any Michael Jordan base card from the Exquisite product line would be at the top. 2003-04 Exquisite Collection is the first edition of the historic product and the Michael Jordan base card is a collector favorite. Numbered to only 225 copies, Gem Mint versions of this base card can sell into the thousands.
You can check out all the Michael Jordan base cards from Exquisite in our Ultimate Michael Jordan Exquisite Collection Drool Gallery