1990 SkyBox Michael Jordan: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
I'll never forget how excited I was as a kid when I first got my hands on a 1990 SkyBox Michael Jordan basketball card.
Few cards of that era re-created the high flying action synonymous with the legendary Michael Jordan quite like this one.
And it was all in the design...
The gold borders and multi-colored backgrounds were a unique choice but those animated streaks that trailed from the basketball boosted the sense of action and excitement to a whole new level.
Of course, the entire set featured these unique design elements but Jordan's card outshined them all.
Because so many were produced, it's certainly not the most expensive Jordan card you'll come across but it's still loved by collectors throughout the hobby.
And in this guide, I'll cover everything you need to know about this early 90s gem.
Let's jump right in!
1990 SkyBox Michael Jordan Value
The 1990 SkyBox Jordan card can be worth anywhere from around $1 to $225 or more.
The value depends on two things:
- The condition of the card
- If Beckett (BGS) or Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) have graded it to be in pristine condition
Ungraded and in poor condition, this card won't be worth very much since they are so easy to find in that shape.
However, if the card is graded by Beckett or PSA to be in pristine, gem mint condition then collectors will happily pay much higher prices since they're tougher to find in that quality.
Professional grading companies are stringent and review cards under magnification to look for the slightest flaws.
So, to be in pristine, gem mint condition the card has to be in almost flawless, pack-fresh condition with excellent centering, sharp corners, and no surface damage.
Here's a look at estimated prices from both companies in different grades:
BGS 10 PRISTINE: $300
BGS 9.5 GEM MINT: $70
BGS 9 MINT: $40
PSA 10 GEM MINT: $225
PSA 9 MINT: $50
PSA 8 NM-MT: $10
When it comes to modern cards, collectors typically prefer BGS.
And they'll place a huge premium on any card that achieves the lofty BGS 10 Pristine grade since it is so tough to achieve.
Distinction: The 1990 SkyBox set checklist featured rookie cards of Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Glen Rice and Vlade Divac.
And, of course, collectors could find any number of iconic Hall of Famers of the era like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing within SkyBox packs.
Not surprisingly, though, Jordan's card is by far the most desirable and valuable in the set.
Number: This is card #41 out of 423 total cards in the set.
Design: The design of the card is instantly recognizable with its gold borders, multi-colored background and action-packed image of Jordan throwing one down.
And like I said earlier, the animated streaks on the basketball give the card an even more exciting feel.
When this set was first released, I remember how advanced the design seemed compared to his NBA Hoops and Fleer cards that year.
There was nothing quite like it at the time as most basketball cards were fairly straightforward in design.
Even the SkyBox logo with its unique font somehow seemed on a different level.
Clearly, the SkyBox brand was trying to set itself apart with a ground-breaking design that collectors had never experienced and I think they accomplished that without being too over-the-top.
Reverse Side: The reverse side of the card is printed with a vertical layout and features his personal information and stats in an interesting format:
- his career totals
- his previous season totals
- how he compared to other guards the previous season
- and his per 48 minutes totals
Compared to stat formats on other cards, it may not look like there's much here at first.
But, I always liked the way SkyBox included the comparison to other players of the same position in this set.
We all knew how great Jordan was back then but having that quick summary of his stats versus other guards allowed collectors to understand just how dominant he was.
And, regarding the image of Jordan golfing, I'm not sure what SkyBox was going for but it was certainly a nice touch.
His golf swing was almost as sweet as his fadeaway jumper.
Condition Issues: Centering is a typical challenge with this card as is chipping and wear easily showing on the gold borders.
The 1990 SkyBox Michael Jordan Prototype
As a way to help promote the 1990 SkyBox set before its initial release, the company distributed a limited number of "prototype" cards to card dealers to build their interest.
Just ten players had prototype cards and they were mostly big-name stars of the day like Jordan.
The prototypes are easily distinguished from the regular versions by the red banner in the upper-left corner that reads "PROTOTYPE."
Interestingly, with the exception of Jordan, the imagery on the fronts and backs of the other nine players' prototype cards is the same as the regular versions.
For some reason, SkyBox used a different image of Jordan dunking on the front with an image of him playing basketball, not golf, on the reverse.
Because they're much rarer than the regular versions, collectors would likely pay around $200 or so for one of these graded in PSA 9 condition while for a PSA 10, I wouldn't be surprised if someone paid $1000 or more.
Michael Jordan’s Legacy
Most basketball fans would agree that Michael Jordan was the greatest who ever played.
His high-flying, highlight-reel dunks and unstoppable fadeaway jumper cemented his legacy as being absolutely dominant on offense.
But, he was just as relentless on defense.
He was a complete player and his game really didn't have any holes in it.
He single-handedly elevated the game of basketball on the world stage and was a hero to kids across the planet who wanted to "be like Mike."
Over 15 seasons as a pro, he would achieve the following:
- 1984-85 Rookie of the Year
- 6x NBA Champ
- 5x MVP
- 14x All-Star
- 10x Scoring Champ
- 9x NBA All-Defensive First Team
- 11x All-NBA
Had he not retired two different times during the middle of his career, his basketball resume would be even more incredible.
Who knows how many championships and other awards he could have won?
The only thing we'll know is that Jordan was a unique talent and it was such a joy to be able to watch him play.
Because of his legacy, Jordan cards will remain some of the most popular among basketball collectors for a long, long time.