20 Most Valuable 1987 Fleer Basketball Cards

Most Valuable 1987 Fleer Basketball Cards

As time goes on, 1987 Fleer basketball cards continue to get more attention throughout the hobby.

This set used to fly under the radar, but not anymore...

With the recent surge in prices and popularity of the 1986 Fleer set, many collectors have turned to the 1987 Fleer set as a cheaper option.

And, though this set it's nice to see this set finally getting the attention it deserves, they're also becoming quite pricey in top condition.

The value of some of the cards on this list may not surprise you but I'm sure there are others that will make you do a double take.

It all comes down to how difficult it can be to find these cards in top condition.

So, in this list, we'll take a look at the 20 most valuable in the set.

Let's jump right in!

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1987 Fleer #59 Michael Jordan

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $21,000

Of all the incredible seasons that Michael Jordan had, the 1987-1988 season was arguably the finest of his career.

No, he didn't get a championship ring that year.

In fact, the Pistons blew away the Bulls in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But, that was the year that the world saw just how dangerous Jordan was on both sides of the ball.

On offense, Jordan led the league in scoring for the second year in a row with an eye-popping 35 points per game, the second highest total of his career, while averaging 5.9 assists.

And on defense, he led the league in steals per game (3.2) while also averaging 1.6 blocks per game, both personal bests.

If you're into advanced metrics, Jordan's incredible 21.2 win shares were also tops in the league and a personal best as well. 

Jordan was clearly in top form that year and although the Bulls fell short in the playoffs, Jordan took home both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors.

His rookie card in the 1986 Fleer set has only continued to reach astronomical price levels over the years leaving this second-year card to be a nice consolation prize...though it's becoming incredibly pricey as well.

1987 Fleer #59 Michael Jordan Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #11 Larry Bird

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,500

After a disappointing Game 6 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1987 NBA Finals, Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics entered the 1987-1988 season looking to make another title run.

In the first game of the season, the Celtics mopped the Boston Garden floor with the Milwaukee Bucks 125-108 as Bird nearly posted a triple-double with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists.

The Celtics continued their hot start, winning their first six games of the season before sputtering to a 9-5 record as they entered their first rematch against their arch-rival Lakers at home.

The game turned out to be a classic back-and-forth duel between the two teams before Magic Johnson threw up a shot from deep that banked in to secure a 115-114 victory, stunning the Boston crowd.

On the season, Bird was electric on offense as he averaged a career-high 29.9 points per game and picked up his ninth-straight All-Star and First-Team All-NBA selections.

The Celtics fought through Knicks and Hawks in the postseason before falling to the Detroit Pistons in six, ending Bird's quest for another ring.

1987 Fleer #11 Larry Bird Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #13 Manute Bol

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,500

Because of his incredible height at 7' 7", scouts had their eyes on Manute Bol ahead of the 1985 NBA Draft, though many wondered if he was ready for NBA competition.

However, Manute Bol didn't have time to wait and entered the 1985 NBA Draft for one simple reason: to earn enough money to help rescue his sister from political unrest in his native country of Sudan.

The Washington Bullets drafted Bol with the 31st overall pick, intrigued at what the youngster could bring to the team with his incredible height.

Bol immediately went to work during the 1985-86 season and quickly showed what kind of a defensive force he could be, pacing the league with five blocks per game and 397 overall.

Though he started only sixty games and played only 26.8 minutes per contest, Bol raised eyebrows with those numbers and quickly developed a reputation as one of the best shot blockers in the game.

His 397 blocks that year remain the rookie record and are the second-most in a single season behind only Mark Eaton's 456 during the 1984-85 season.

With only seven examples of this card having earned PSA 10 status, it's the most challenging card in the set to find in top condition.

1987 Fleer #13 Manute Bol Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #56 Magic Johnson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,500

Magic Johnson entered the 1987-88 season fresh off a convincing 4-2 victory over Larry Bird and the Celtics in the 1987 NBA Finals.

That gave him four NBA championship rings, so he needed just one more to fill out each finger on his hand.

And after averaging 19.6 points, 11.9 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game, Johnson led the Lakers to a 62-20 record and the Pacific Division title eager for another NBA Championship.

The Lakers entered the playoffs with the league's second-best offense and ninth-best defense and quickly blew through the San Antonio Spurs 3-0 in the First Round.

From that point on, it wasn't nearly as easy.

A tough Utah Jazz team led by Karl Malone and John Stockton took the Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals, while the Dallas Mavericks did the same in the Western Conference Finals.

After falling behind 3-2 to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, the Lakers eeked out a 103-102 win in Game Six.

Finally, in front of a home crowd in Los Angeles, the Lakers won a hard-fought 108-105 battle to give Johnson his fifth and final NBA Championship ring.

1987 Fleer #56 Magic Johnson Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #80 Hakeem Olajuwon

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,350

Like Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon made his rookie card debut in the 1986 Fleer set, so this second-year card is often an excellent way to grab an early Olajuwon card for much cheaper.

It doesn't mean they're cheap, though, as this card continues to climb in value steadily over time.

Olajuwon continued to dominate during the 1987-88 season, his fourth year in the league, as he earned his fourth-straight All-Star selection while making the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team for the second year in a row.

After leading the Rockets to a 46-36 record in the regular season, Olajuwon played lights out in the First Round of the Western Conference Finals, averaging 37.5 points, 16.8 rebounds, and 2.8 points per game.

Despite his dominant play, Olajuwon couldn't lead the Rockets deep into the playoffs as they were knocked out 1-3 by a well-rounded Dallas Mavericks team.

1987 Fleer #80 Hakeem Olajuwon Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #6 Thurl Bailey

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,250

After leading the North Carolina State Wolfpack to their incredible and improbable 1983 NCAA Championship run, Thurl Bailey began his NBA career when the Utah Jazz drafted him with the seventh pick of the 1983 NBA Draft.

Bailey spent most of his first two years with the Jazz as their starting power forward until the team drafted Karl Malone in the 1985 NBA Draft.

Coming off the bench seemed to work to Bailey's advantage, and the 1987-88 season turned out to be a career year.

"Big T's" 19.6 points, 1.9 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 34.2 minutes played per game that season were all career highs, while his 6.5 rebounds per game fell just 0.1 per game short of a career-best.

What makes this card so valuable is its rarity in high grade, as only eight examples of this card have achieved a PSA 10 designation as of this writing.

1987 Fleer #6 Thurl Bailey Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #44 Sidney Green

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,250

Sidney Green played for six different franchises in ten NBA seasons, averaging 7.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game.

After earning second-team All-American honors with the UNLV Runnin' Rebels for his performance during the 1983 NCAA season, the Chicago Bulls drafted Green with the fifth pick of the 1983 NBA Draft.

Green spent three years with the Bulls and one with the Pistons before landing with the New York Knicks for the 1987-88 season.

The Brooklyn native averaged 7.8 points and 7.8 rebounds that year as he helped Patrick Ewing solidify things down low.

Interestingly, Green and Billy Donovan were teammates that year but would later cross paths again when Donovan coached his son, Taurean Green, and the rest of the Florida Gators to back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007.

Green's 1987 Fleer card has also earned the PSA 10 grade just eight times, making it one of the most challenging cards in the set.

1987 Fleer #44 Sidney Green Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #64 Alton Lister

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,250

Alton Lister's card is another difficult one to find in top condition, as only eight examples have achieved the cherished PSA 10 grade.

The 7' 0" Dallas native was a standout in college while with the Arizona State Sun Devils before being drafted 21st overall in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Lister spent the first five seasons of his sixteen-year career with Milwaukee Bucks before being traded to Seattle for Jack Sikma ahead of the 1986-87 season.

The move to Seattle was a good one for Lister as the 1986-87 season turned out to be a career year for the big man as he set highs in points (11.6), rebounds (9.4), and blocks (2.4) per game.

However, his production dropped significantly during the 1987-88 season as he averaged just 5.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game.

1987 Fleer #64 Alton Lister Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #8 Gene Banks

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,000

Gene Banks never suited up in the NBA for the 1987-88 season.

That, and the fact that only ten examples of his 1987 Fleer card appear in a PSA 10 holder, make this card one of the most interesting in the set.

Banks was a scoring sensation while at Duke and even outscored future Hall of Famers James Worthy and Ralph Sampson to take home the ACC scoring title during his final year of NCAA play.

And after being drafted 28th overall in the second round of the 1981 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs, Banks had four decent years with the Spurs and two with the Bulls before his NBA career ended.

In six seasons in the league, Banks averaged 11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game.

Banks would play professionally in Italy, Israel, and the CBA into the early 90s before returning to the NBA as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards from 2009-2012.

1987 Fleer #8 Gene Banks Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #16 Joe Barry Carroll

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,000

I grew up in Central Indiana and my grandpa was a red hot Purdue Boilermakers basketball fan.

So, the first time I remember hearing about Joe Barry Carroll was as a kid in the late 1980s when my grandpa would tell me about all the old greats who played at Lambert Fieldhouse and Mackey Arena.

During his senior season at Purdue, Joe Barry Carroll led the Boilermakers to the Final Four of the 1980 NCAA Tournament, and no other Purdue team has made it that far since.

And after the Golden State Warriors took him with the first pick of the 1980 NBA Draft, Carroll made an immediate impact on the NBA, averaging 18.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game to make the All-Rookie team.

In seven seasons with the Warriors, Carroll averaged an impressive 20.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game, earning one All-Star selection during the 1986-87 season in the process.

However, early in the 1987-88 season, the Warriors traded Carroll to the Rockets as part of a multi-player deal, and his production was never quite the same.

Carroll was an outstanding basketball player but most of this card's steep price tag comes from the fact that only ten examples have earned a PSA 10 grade.

1987 Fleer #16 Joe Barry Carroll Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #21 Michael Cooper

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,000

Michael Cooper spent twelve seasons in the NBA, all with the Los Angeles Lakers, as a shooting guard but wasn't known for scoring.

Instead, he was downright nasty on defense, and his skills as a stopper were a key reason the Los Angeles Lakers were able to win five NBA titles during the 1980s.

Beginning with the 1980-81 season through the 1987-88 season, Cooper made the All-Defensive team eight years in a row.

And in 1986-87 won the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

As a scorer, Cooper averaged 8.9 points per game over his career and eclipsed the double-digit scoring mark in just two of the twelve seasons in which he played.

With guys like Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on his team, though, Cooper didn't have to carry the burden as a big-time scorer.

His status as a Lakers legend and the fact that only ten examples have earned PSA 10 status make this card an expensive must-have.

1987 Fleer #21 Michael Cooper Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #33 Dale Ellis

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $2,000

The Dallas Mavericks drafted Dale Ellis with the ninth pick of the 1983 NBA Draft but never figured out how to use his talents efficiently.

In three seasons with the Mavericks, Ellis started just seven games, averaging 8.2 points and 16.4 minutes played per game.

However, the Seattle SuperSonics must have seen something special in Ellis, so they traded Al Wood to Dallas in exchange for the young small forward ahead of the 1986-87 season.

In his first season with the Sonics, Ellis moved to shooting guard and flipped the switch on his NBA career as he went on to average 24.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists to easily win the Most Improved Player Award.

Ellis turned in another solid year on the 1987-88 season and would earn the only All-Star selection the year after during the 1988-89 season.

His 1987 Fleer card is another challenging one to find in top condition, as PSA has granted just ten examples of this card the PSA 10 grade.

1987 Fleer #33 Dale Ellis Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #3 Mark Aguirre

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,800

Mark Aguirre lit up the scoreboard in three years at DePaul University before declaring for the 1981 NBA Draft after his junior year.

That turned out to be a wise move for the Chicago native as the Dallas Mavericks selected him with the first pick.

Aguirre's success carried over to the NBA as he was a three-time All-Star during his eight seasons in Dallas and consistently ranked among the leading scorers in the league.

The 1987-88 season saw Aguirre average 25.1 points per game, good enough for eighth-best in the league.

However, that season turned out to be his last full stint with the Mavericks as tensions grew between the coach, other players, and him.

Midway through the 1988-89 season, Dallas traded Aguirre to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Adrian Dantley and a first-round pick.

The trade turned out great for Aguirre as he became a member of the "Bad Boys" Pistons, who repeated as NBA Champions in 1989 and 1990.

1987 Fleer #3 Mark Aguirre Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #10 Benoit Benjamin

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,800

Benoit Benjamin's 1987 Fleer card is another tough one to find in top condition, with only eleven examples having earned the lofty PSA 10 grade as of this writing.

Benjamin played for nine different teams in sixteen seasons, but his best days were with the Los Angeles Clippers, who drafted him third overall in the 1985 NBA Draft.

In six seasons with the Clippers, Benjamin averaged 13.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game.

His 1,117 blocks (2.8 per game) currently rank second-most in Clippers team history behind only DeAndre Jordan's 1,277 (1.7 per game), though Benjamin averaged more than one block per game better than Jordan.

1987 Fleer #10 Benoit Benjamin Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #18 Terry Catledge

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,800

With the 21st pick of the 1985 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Terry Catledge, a 6' 8 " power forward out of the University of South Alabama.

However, Catledge played just 17.1 minutes per game during his 1985-86 rookie season, averaging 7.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest in support of the team's first-round pick from the year before, Charles Barkley.

Since Barkley was quickly developing into one of the top superstars in the league, the 76ers didn't have much use for Catledge.

So, after just one season, they decided to trade Catledge and star center Moses Malone to the Washington Bullets for Cliff Robinson and Jeff Ruland.

The trade has since gone down as one of the most unpopular trades in 76ers history.

Malone continued his All-Star ways in Washington.

Catledge turned in seven decent seasons between Washington and Orlando, averaging double digits in scoring nearly seven rebounds per game.

Robinson was pretty good for Philadelphia, but Ruland retired after just one season with the team before making a comeback several years later.

Only eleven examples of Catledge's card have achieved PSA 10 status, so it's a challenging one to find in top condition.

1987 Fleer #18 Terry Catledge Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #5 John Bagley

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,700

During the spring and summer 

1987 Fleer #5 John Bagley Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #66 John Lucas

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,700

After starring for the University of Maryland in college, John Lucas made his NBA debut in 1976 after the Houston Rockets drafted him with the first overall pick of the 1976 NBA Draft.

The Rockets weren't the only professional team to draft Lucas, as the New York Nets also drafted him to play for them in the ABA.

Lucas played for six different ball clubs during his fourteen seasons in the NBA, averaging 10.7 points and 7.0 assists per game.

Though he may have never lived up to the high expectations as a former number one draft pick, his 1987 Fleer card is one of the most desirable in high grade because of its rarity in a PSA 10 holder.

1987 Fleer #66 John Lucas Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #122 John Williams

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,700

The twelfth pick of the 1986 NBA Draft out of LSU, John Williams averaged 12.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game during his 1987-88 season with the Washington Bullets.

He started 37 games that season, by far the most of any season of his eight-year career.

Williams eventually struggled with injuries and weight gain that would limit his production over the remainder of his career.

After playing in just 34 games with the Indiana Pacers on the 1994-95 season, Williams retired from the NBA but later played professionally in Spain from 1997-2002.

PSA has given out PSA 10 grades to just thirteen examples of this card, making it scarce and pricey in top condition.

1987 Fleer #122 John Williams Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #9 Charles Barkley

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,600

In his fourth year in the NBA, Charles Barkley stepped up and solidified himself as the face of the franchise.

The 76ers traded Moses Malone in 1986, and Julius Erving retired after the 1987 season, so all eyes were on Barkley heading into the 1987-88 season.

Barkley answered the call, setting a career-high with 28.3 points per game while leading the league in two-point field goal percentage (.630) for the second year in a row.

Despite his individual accolades, the 76ers missed out on the playoffs for the first time since the 1974-75 season.

Since his rookie card was part of the 1986 Fleer set and has grown quite expensive, this second-year card has continued to offer a decent alternative for collectors looking for an early card of the basketball icon.

1987 Fleer #9 Charles Barkley Basketball Card

1987 Fleer #30 Clyde Drexler

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $1,500

Gliding into the last spot on the list is the legendary Clyde "The Glide" Drexler.

Like Barkley, Drexler drastically stepped up his scoring game during the 1987-88 season as the superstar shooting guard poured in an average of 27 points per game.

In addition, Drexler grabbed 6.6 rebounds, dished out 5.8 assists to go along with 2.5 assists per game.

His overall production earned him a second trip to the All-Star Game, his first All-NBA selection, and a fifth-place finish in the MVP vote.

Though Drexler and the Blazers fell to the Utah Jazz in the First Round of the playoffs, the superstar would later lead Portland to two trips to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992.

Unfortunately, the Pistons and the Bulls denied Drexler a ring in each of those Finals.

But, he would eventually get a championship with the Houston Rockets in 1995 after reuniting with his college teammate, Hakeem Olajuwon.

1987 Fleer #30 Clyde Drexler Basketball Card

1987 Fleer Basketball Cards In Review

Though it lacks the rookie card power of the 1986 Fleer set, this set offers plenty to love in terms of superstar players and challenging commons to chase in top condition.

The checklist is small at 132 base cards (not including the stickers) but putting together a high-grade set isn't necessarily cheap or easy, as you can see.

Nobody will ever expect this set to step out of the shadows of the 1986 Fleer set that preceded it, but its desirability continues to increase as the years go on.

That trend should only continue over time.

Ross Uitts
 

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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