10 Most Valuable 1961 Fleer Basketball Cards
One of my all-time favorite sets, the 1961 Fleer basketball card set is jam-packed with stars and Hall of Famers.
There are also several rookie cards of some of the games true legends...
The design is instantly recognizable as black and white player images are transposed onto multi-colored backgrounds.
And don't forget about those eye-catching cartoon team logos...
Not only is this set considered one of the greatest basketball sets ever produced, it's also considered one of the key vintage sports cards sets in general.
And in this guide, I'll run through the ten most valuable.
Let's jump right in!
1961 Fleer #8 Wilt Chamberlain Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $11,000
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $1,000
Chamberlain's rookie card is by far and away the key card in this iconic set.
"The Big Dipper" goes down as one of the game's greatest players of all-time and is the only player to finish his NBA career averaging more than 30 points and 20 rebounds per game.
The guy was simply unstoppable and would go on to win 4 MVP awards, 7 scoring championships, 11 rebounding titles, be selected to 13 All-Star teams and win 2 NBA championships over his storied career.
Had it not been for Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics, he'd likely have won many more NBA titles.
Centering is a common challenge with this card but mint specimens can be worth into the five figure range.
1961 Fleer #43 Jerry West Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $3,650
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $325
If your silhouette is the inspiration for the NBA logo then you know your rookie card has to be worth quite a pretty penny.
So how good was "The Logo"?
He was named an All-Star in each of the 14 seasons of his career with the Lakers which should tell you pretty much all you need to know.
His ability to score from long range and perform at a high level in clutch situations made him one of the most feared scorers of his day.
Like Chamberlain, if it weren't for Bill Russell and those dominant Celtics teams, West would have more championships to his name.
My favorite fact about West's career: he's the only player ever to be named NBA Finals MVP from the losing team.
This is one of West's finest cards you can own.
1961 Fleer #36 Oscar Robertson Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $3,500
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $250
The next key rookie card in this set belongs to the legendary "Big O".
Robertson was an extremely well-rounded player who was known for his ability to score, rebound and pass with the best of them.
In fact, when the 1961-62 season concluded he had become the first player to ever record a triple-double after putting up 30.8 points, 11.4 assists and 12.5 rebounds per game.
What is often forgotten is how close he came to accomplishing the feat in each of his first five seasons in the league as he'd come within 0.5 assists or 0.1 rebounds per game in a given year.
Before Russell Westbrook came along, Robertson looked like he'd be the only guy to ever average a triple-double over an entire season.
1961 Fleer #3 Elgin Baylor Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $2,000
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $135
Another well-rounded superstar, Elgin Baylor was the other piece of the dynamic duo alongside Jerry West who led so many of those great Laker teams in the 60s and early 70s.
Baylor brought to the game an acrobatic yet powerful style of play that allowed him to routinely post double-doubles in points and rebounds.
Although you wouldn't think so considering the stats he put up, Baylor is often viewed as one of the game's most underrated players of all-time.
That likely keeps his rookie card from commanding higher prices than it already does.
1961 Fleer #1 Al Attles Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $1,700
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $35
Al Attles spent nearly 60 years with the Warriors franchise, first as a player during the 60s and early 70s and later as a coach and general manager.
That kind of dedication and commitment to one team for such a long period of time is practically unheard of in any sport.
And while he may not be as widely-recognized as some of the other legends on this list, he was rightfully inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.
Also boosting the value of his card is the fact that it is #1 in the set which meant it was routinely exposed to more damage and is tougher to find in high grade..
1961 Fleer #4 Walt Bellamy Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $800
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $30
Walt Bellamy is another one of those guys who doesn't seem to get as much recognition as he deserves.
The Hall of Famer had one of the greatest rookie seasons ever in 1961-62 as he piled up 31.6 points per game and 19.0 rebounds per game with the Chicago Packers (who later became the Baltimore Bullets).
Those are astounding numbers for a rookie, or for any player at any point in his career for that matter.
The four-time All-Star would lend his services to five different teams over the course of his career.
Interestingly, Bellamy also holds the record for most games played in a single season with 88 after he played in 35 games for the Knicks and 53 for the Pistons during the 1968-69 season.
1961 Fleer #38 Bill Russell
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $800
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $125
While his rookie card debut came in the 1957 Topps set, Bill Russell still lands among the key cards in the 1961 Fleer set.
And why wouldn't he?
After all, Russell was primarily responsible for all those Celtics teams that prevented several other guys on this list from winning more championships than they did.
He may not have been the scorer that Wilt Chamberlain was but he possessed incredible rebounding and shot-blocking ability that turned him into an incredible defender.
1961 Fleer #2 Paul Arizin
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $750
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $22
Paul Arizin was one of the game's biggest offensive threats during the 1950s and into the early 1960s.
He and teammate, Neil Johnston, routinely frustrated opposing defenses with their scoring production.
A 10x All-Star, Arizin's career was briefly put on pause due to his service in the Marines during the Korean War.
However, in only his second season since returning from military service, Arizin wasted no time in playing at a high level as he helped lead the Warriors to a championship for the 1955-56 season.
1961 Fleer #47 Wilt Chamberlain In Action
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $550
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $100
Fleer could not have picked a better image for their "Wilt Chamberlain In Action" card than this.
What you see on display is Wilt "The Stilt" doing pretty much what he did throughout his career: dunking over helpless defenders.
Chamberlain's size and athleticism were just too much for opposing defenses to handle.
1961 Fleer #10 Bob Cousy
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $415
Estimated PSA 5 EX Value: $80
Last, but not least, on our list is Hall of Famer and Celtic icon, Bob Cousy.
Alongside Russell, Cousy helped lead the Celtics to 6 NBA titles in a row from 1957 to 1962.
Had he not retired, he'd have won even more as the Celtics continued winning championships into the late 1960s.
Cousy was a 13x All-Star in each of his 13 seasons with the Celtics who could score, rebound, and pass.
In fact, he was such a good passer that he led the league in assists eight years in a row at one point.
1961 Fleer Basketball Cards In Review
So there you have it, the 10 most valuable 1961 Fleer basketball cards.
I can't say enough about this iconic set but some of the things I enjoy most are:
- 43 of the 66 cards in the checklist feature a Hall of Famer
- 14 Hall of Famers made their rookie card debut in this set
- the color schemes and team logos are amazing
Because all of the cards were printed in equal quantities, that means no short prints or high numbers to have to chase which is a bit of a relief.
Overall, it's just a straightforward, star-studded set that is loaded with key cards of the vintage era.
These cards will remain special and highly valuable for years to come.