20 Most Valuable 1990 SkyBox Basketball Cards

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Most Valuable 1990 SkyBox Basketball Cards

If you laid any single 1990 SkyBox basketball card on the table, almost every collector in the hobby of that era would instantly recognize the design.

There was simply nothing else like these cards on the market at the time...

The gold borders and futuristic-looking graphic designs in the backgrounds jumped out at collectors in a way no other basketball card set had before.

And the timing of this set's release was impeccable.

Michael Jordan was making a run at his first NBA Championship, but the Lakers, Celtics and Pistons weren't giving up without a fight...

As NBA basketball continued to explode in popularity, collectors pounced on this set.

And in this guide, we look at the 20 most valuable in today's market.

Let's jump right in!

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Ross Uitts

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I do want to be 100% clear that most of the cards in this set sadly have no value these days.

Like the 1990 Fleer and Hoops sets, there were just so many of these cards printed.

And to have any value at all, the cards on this list will need to be graded in PSA 10 gem mint condition...meaning they're nearly flawless.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list:

1990 SkyBox #41 Michael Jordan

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $450

The 1990-91 season would be the year that Michael Jordan began to take over as the face of the NBA as he and the Chicago Bulls picked up their first championship after defeating Magic Johnson and the Lakers 4-1 in the NBA Finals.

For the fifth year in a row, Jordan led the NBA in scoring with 31.5 points per game and was named an All-Star, MVP, and Finals MVP.

He was unstoppable.

It was a magical year for Jordan and as a result, Sports Illustrated honored him with their "Sportsman of the Year" award, which was surprisingly the only time he received the award considering how dominant he was in the 1990s.

I remember less than five years ago you could find this card in a PSA 10 holder for less than $30 but those days are long gone.

1990 Skybox #41 Michael Jordan Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #138 Magic Johnson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $100

Most would agree that Earvin "Magic" Johnson was the best point guard in NBA history.

Known for his larger-than-life personality and the extreme passion with which he played the game, John utilized his uncanny court awareness and passing abilities to help the Lakers break down opposing defenses with ease.

Over his legendary career, Johnson would win five NBA Championships and be named league MVP three times, Finals MVP three times, and an All-Star twelve times.

For the 1990-1991 season, Johnson averaged 19.4 points, 7 rebounds, and 12.5 assists per game but was unable to three-peat as league MVP.

He would lose both the MVP and the NBA Finals to Michael Jordan, signaling a new era in the league.

Johnson's dominance in the 1980s was unquestioned, but the 1990s were Jordan's time.

1990 Skybox #138 Magic Johnson Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #14 Larry Bird

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $100

Like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird's brightest days in the NBA occurred in the 1980s as he would pick up three NBA titles and three MVP awards during the decade.

However, injuries would ultimately hold him back from having similar success in the early 1990s.

After leading Boston to a scorching 29-5 start in 1990-1991, Bird suffered a compressed nerve that would force him to miss 22 games.

Unfortunately, that injury set off a series of chronic back problems that would plague Bird for the rest of his career and ultimately force him out of the game.

Over sixty games on the 1990-1991 season, Bird averaged 19.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game while making his eleventh trip to the All-Star game.

A tough New York Knicks team would slam the door on any hopes of a fourth championship ring as they knocked out Bird and the Celtics in five games in the first round of the playoffs.

1990 Skybox #14 Larry Bird Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #46 Scottie Pippen

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

Coming off his first All-Star season the year before, Scottie Pippen entered the 1990-1991 season as one of the league's best small forwards.

However, despite improving in pretty much every major statistical category over the year before, Pippen surprisingly wasn't selected to the All-Star roster for the second time in a row.

It didn't matter, though.

Along with teammate Michael Jordan, Pippen wanted nothing more than an NBA title as the Chicago Bulls seemed like they were long overdue.

On the heels of a 61-21 record, the Bulls swept the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs before breezing past the Sixers 4-1 in the semifinals and sweeping the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Chicago had steamrolled its way into the NBA Finals looking unstoppable, and sure enough, they destroyed Magic Johnson and the Lakers 4-1 to win it all.

The Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s had begun.

1990 Skybox #46 Scottie Pippen Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #91 Dennis Rodman

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

After coming off the bench for most of the first four years in his career, Dennis Rodman finally earned the starting small forward spot for the Detroit Pistons for the 1990-1991 season.

The increase in playing time also helped Rodman break the double-digit rebounding mark for the first time with 12.5 rebounds per game.

However, it wasn't until the following season in 1991-1992 that Rodman's rebounding stats skyrocketed to a league-leading and eye-popping 18.7 boards per game that would set off a streak of seven consecutive rebounding championships.

The imagery on this card is fantastic as Rodman blocks out Larry Bird, capturing a huge rivalry in action.

Rodman's rebounding may have been on the uptick in 1990-1991, but his lockdown defense was as strong as ever as "The Worm" won his second-straight Defensive Player of the Year Award.

It was then that the world began to realize the Rodman could guard just about anyone in the league at any position.

1990 SkyBox #91 Dennis Rodman Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #211 Charles Barkley

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

Charles Barkley turned things up a notch on offense during the 1990-1991 season as he attempted 15.1 two-point field goals and scored 27.6 points per game, both the second-highest marks in those categories for his career.

And he still managed to lead the league in two-point field goal percentage with a .614 average.

After sweeping the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, Barkley and the Sixers were knocked out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals by Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

The playoffs were never kind to Barkley as he ran into many tough teams along the way and the one time he did make it to the Finals with the Suns in 1993, Michael Jordan was there again to dash his hopes for a ring defeating Phoenix in six.

Wildly popular on and off the court, Barkley is easily one of the greatest players that unfortunately never won an NBA Championship.

1990 Skybox #211 Charles Barkley Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #365 Gary Payton Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

Nicknamed "The Glove" for his lockdown defensive abilities, Gary Payton was a nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection from 1994-2002 and a nine-time All-Star in his seventeen years in the NBA.

Payton also became a potent threat on offense beginning with the 1993-1994 season when he averaged more than 20 points per game (20.6) for the first time in his career.

That uptick in scoring coincided with far more shot attempts from behind the three-point arc (2.8 per game versus 0.7 per game the year before) as Payton looked to expand his offensive game.

After coming up short in the NBA Finals multiple times earlier in his career, Payton finally got a ring with the Miami Heat in 2006 with a 4-2 win over a tough Detroit Pistons squad.

As one of the all-time great point guards to ever play in the NBA, Payton's rookie card is one of the keys to this set.

It also might be my personal favorite.

Taken as the number two choice overall in the 1990 NBA Draft, Payton was dressed up and looking sharp for this picture of him and commissioner David Stern holding the ball, although Stern was cropped.

Though many may think the green swirl background and "NBA Draft" logo are a bit ugly, to me, they look great and bring back so many memories of that time period in general.

1990 Skybox #365 Gary Payton Rookie Card

1990 SkyBox #95 Tim Hardaway Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

Selected at number fourteen overall out of UTEP in the 1989 NBA Draft, Tim Hardaway wasted no time getting to work in the NBA as he averaged 14.7 points and 8.7 assists per game in his rookie season.

By the time the 1990-1991 season rolled around, Hardaway had elevated his game even more as he averaged 22.9 points and 9.7 assists per game while earning his first trip to the All-Star game.

Hardaway would make the All-Star roster five times during his career, three times with the Golden State Warriors and twice with the Miami Heat.

With a lightning quick crossover dribble, Hardaway was a nightmare to defend and could break down opposing defenses with ease.

One of the best point guards of his era, Hardaway arguably had the skills and resumé to be a Hall of Famer but, as of this writing, has yet to be inducted.

1990 Skybox #95 Tim Hardaway Rookie Card

1990 SkyBox #110 Hakeem Olajuwon

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

Bird wasn't the only superstar to have his 1990-1991 season derailed by injury.

During a home game against the Chicago Bulls on January 3, 1991, Olajuwon took a Bill Cartwright elbow to the face that left him temporarily unconscious and with a minor fracture in his right eye socket.

After sitting out the rest of January and all but one game in February, Olajuwon finished the season to help the Rockets into the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the Lakers swept them in the first round.

Olajuwon would eventually have his day in the sun, though, as he would pick up back-to-back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995.

I don't know about anyone else, but if I were to build an all-time starting five, it would be so hard to leave Olajuwon off the list at center.

It was such a joy to watch him anytime he stepped on the court.

1990 Skybox #110 Hakeem Olajuwon Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #187 Patrick Ewing

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

One of my fondest memories of NBA basketball during the 1990s was watching Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks go toe-to-toe with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Whether it was the regular season or the playoffs, it didn't matter: the Knicks were out to destroy the Bulls, and Ewing was their anchor.

Ewing turned in one of his best seasons in 1990-1991 as his 26.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game were the second-highest marks in his Hall of Fame career.

Unfortunately for Ewing, though, the Knicks ran into a Chicago Bulls team on a rampage and were swept in the first round of the 1991 playoffs.

There was no shame in that, though: nobody was going to stop that Bulls team that year.

Ewings' cards have been getting more and more attention over the last couple of years which is great to see.

Even though he never did get an NBA title, he is easily one of the greatest centers to ever play the game.

1990 SkyBox #187 Patrick Ewing Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #260 David Robinson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

During his first year in the league, David Robinson burst onto the scene as he averaged 24.3 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game during the 1989-1990 season.

Most impressive of all, though, was how Robinson helped the Spurs to a 56-26 record after an abysmal 21-81 record in 1988-1989.

That 35 win improvement spoke volumes, and Robinson was the unanimous selection for the 1989-1990 Rookie of the Year Award for his efforts.

"The Admiral" went on to become a two-time NBA Champion, ten-time All-Star, and the 1994-1995 MVP as his skills on both offense and defense solidified his legacy as one of the greatest centers of all time.

1990 Skybox #260 David Robinson Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #268 Shawn Kemp Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

Six-time NBA All-Star Shawn Kemp is one of the greatest NBA players who are not in the Hall of Fame.

One of the biggest superstars of the 1990s, Kemp was known for his highlight-reel dunks and incredible rebounding ability.

At the peak of his career, Kemp found himself alongside superstar teammate Gary Payton facing off against a Chicago Bulls team in the 1996 NBA Finals that had gone 72-10 in the regular season.

The trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman eventually proved too much for Seattle, though they admirably took them to Game 6 before bowing out.

Kemp's 1990 Skybox rookie card is one of the best-looking on this list, as collectors are treated to an exciting image of Kemp shooting over the top of Laker Hall of Famer James Worthy's outstretched hand.

1990 Skybox #268 Shawn Kemp Rookie Card

1990 SkyBox #135 Vlade Divac Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

Vlade Divac was one of the original players credited for helping pave the way for other European players to play in the NBA after spending sixteen successful seasons in the league.

Soon after the Lakers drafted him in 1989, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson worked with Divac to help him transition his talent to the NBA style of play.

As a result, Divac became an effective scorer, solid rebounder, and one of the best passing centers in the league.

While with the Sacramento Kings, Divac was selected the only All-Star team of his career during the 2000-2001 season while averaging 12 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

Many of those Sacramento Kings teams that featured Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and Jason Williams were some of the toughest of the era.

Overall, Divac was well-liked by players and fans alike, with his positive reputation even helping land him a cameo in the 1996 film Space Jam.

1990 Skybox #135 Vlade Divac Rookie Card

1990 SkyBox #237 Drazen Petrovic Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

Throughout the 1980s, Drazen Petrovic was one of the biggest professional basketball stars in Europe.

And in 1989, he broke into the NBA when the Portland Trail Blazers brought him onboard as a perimeter shooting threat.

However, the backcourt in Portland became crowded and the team never really found a way to capitalize on his skills.

Unhappy with his limited role in Portland, Petrovic insisted on being traded and eventually found himself a member of the New Jersey Nets midway through the 1990-1991 season.

In New Jersey, Petrovic proved to the NBA that he could star at the highest level as he became one of the top shooting guards in the league.

In two full seasons with the Nets, Petrovic averaged 20.6 points per game in 1991-1992 and 22.3 ppg in 1992-1993, his final season in the NBA.

Sadly, Petrovic died in a car accident on June 7, 1993, at 28 years old.

Considered one of the key players who helped open the NBA's door for many European stars, Petrovic earned a posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

1990 Skybox #237 Drazen Petrovic Rookie Card

1990 SkyBox #362 Derrick Coleman Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

The hype surrounding this card was sky high when boxes of 1990 Skybox cards hit store shelves.

After a standout performance during his time at Syracuse, the New Jersey Nets took Coleman with the first pick of the 1990 NBA Draft.

During his rookie season, Coleman averaged 18.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, proving that his skill set was legitimate and earning the 1990-1991 Rookie of the Year Award in the process.

At the time, some were even saying that he had what it took to become the next great power forward in the NBA, perhaps even better than guys like Karl Malone and Charles Barkley.

Unfortunately, Coleman never quite lived up to those astronomical expectations, though he did enjoy a successful fifteen-year career, averaging 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Coleman was selected to the All-Star team only once in his career in 1994, though he arguably had the stats and performance to warrant other selections as well.

1990 Skybox #362 Derrick Coleman Rookie Card

1990 SkyBox #304 Phil Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $45

Phil Jackson leads all other NBA head coaches with eleven titles: six with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers.

And the first of those rings would come during the 1990-1991 season when Chicago cruised to a 4-1 victory over Los Angeles in the Finals.

Nicknamed the "Zen Master," Jackson was known for integrating elements of Eastern philosophy into his coaching style.

And, of course, he helped implement the triangle offense, developed by his longtime assistant coach, Tex Winters, that many of those Bulls and Lakers teams used to perfection.

1990 SkyBox #304 Phil Jackson Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #117 Reggie Miller

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Coming off his first of five career All-Star selections the year before, Reggie Miller entered the 1990-1991 season as one of the top shooting guards in the league.

And by the time his eighteen seasons in the NBA, all with the Indiana Pacers, were finished, Miller would leave a legacy as one of the greatest shooters of all time. 

But, he didn't have the prettiest shooting form, though.

Everything about the way Reggie Miller held and released the ball was a bit unorthodox.

But, it didn't matter since his quick release allowed him to shoot the ball with a high arc that was extremely tough to defend.

Though Miller wouldn't be named an All-Star for the 1990-1991 season, he did average 22.6 points per game while leading the league in free throw shooting percentage (.918) and setting a career high of 4 assists per game.

1990 SkyBox #117 Reggie Miller Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #233 Clyde Drexler

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Like Miller, Clyde Drexler goes down in history as one of the all-time great shooting guards in NBA history.

However, his playing style was much different than many traditional shooting guards.

Using his incredible athleticism, quickness and leaping ability, Drexler didn't rely on precision perimeter shooting as much but instead was more of a slasher.

And many of those drives to the bucket resulted in some of the top highlight reel dunks of the era, kind of like the one on this card.

What made Drexler even more exceptional was how well-rounded he was, as he was consistently among the top of the league in scoring, rebounding and assists.

And his lightning quick hands made him a nuisance on defense, too, as he averaged two steals per game over his sixteen-year career.

After the Pistons defeated the Blazers 4-1 in the 1990 NBA Finals, Portland made another run at a title in the 1991 playoffs but fell short to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

1990 SkyBox #233 Clyde Drexler Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #282 Karl Malone

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Karl Malone is often considered the best player in NBA history never to get a championship ring.

But, it certainly wasn't for lack of opportunities--he appeared in the playoffs in every season of his 19-year career and made it to the finals three times, twice with Utah and once with a stacked Lakers team in his final year.

Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be for the game's second-leading scorer of all time.

However, Malone did win two gold medals in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, was twice voted league MVP, was a fourteen-time All-Star and made the All-NBA First Team eleven times.

Though the elusive NBA Championship ring may have got the best of Malone, he is still considered one of the best power forwards in league history.

1990 Skybox #282 Karl Malone Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox #284 John Stockton

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Like Malone, Stockton also played nineteen seasons in the NBA, appeared in the playoffs every year, but never got a ring.

Stockton entered the league one year before Malone, but the two spent the next eighteen seasons mastering a pick and roll scheme that was unstoppable.

That pick and roll is pretty much why Malone is the game's second-leading scorer of all time, while Stockton is the NBA's all-time leader in assists by a wide margin

Stockton was a scrappy defender, too, and his 3,265 steals are proof.

Jason Kidd is next on the list at a distant 2,684 career steals, while Michael Jordan's 2,514 and Gary Payton's 2,445 rank third and fourth, respectively.

Stockton's assists and steals records may never be broken.

1990 SkyBox #284 John Stockton Basketball Card

1990 SkyBox Basketball Cards In Review

Ushering in a new era of basketball cards, the 1990 SkyBox set offered collectors a breakthrough design that is still easily identifiable to this day.

The gold borders and visual effects are forged into the memories of those who remember this set originally appeared in stores and card shops across the country.

Released in two series, the 423-card checklist offers a decent lineup of rookie cards and a ton of great stars of the day.

Unopened Box of 1990 Skybox Basketball Cards

Another fun fact is that, since the SkyBox brand was new to the hobby, the company created a limited supply of prototype cards and sent them to dealers to build hype before the set's initial release.

In top grade, these cards can be much more valuable than those on the list.

The list of players with prototype cards includes:

  • Michael Jordan
  • David Robinson
  • Karl Malone
  • Magic Johnson
  • Dennis Rodman
  • Pooh Richardson
  • Rony Seikaly
  • Clyde Drexler
  • Ricky Pierce
  • Kevin Johnson

These prototype cards are easily distinguishable by a large red banner that reads "prototype" on the front side.

Here's a look at the Jordan and Magic prototype cards:

1990 Skybox Prototype Michael Jordan Basketball Card
1990 Skybox Prototype Magic Johnson Basketball Card

Interestingly, as you can see, the Jordan prototype featured an image that was different than that on the standard base card.

You don't see the prototype cards in PSA 10 condition come up for sale too often, but expect to pay a hefty price tag when they do.

The Jordan has sold for over $5,000 in a PSA 10 holder, while the Magic Johnson in PSA 10 would likely fetch over $1,000 easily in today's market.

Overall, there's just so much to love about this iconic set.

While many may not be worth much today, especially if they're not in pristine condition, the nostalgic value of this set is off the charts.

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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