1957 Topps Bill Russell Rookie Card: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
The 1957 Topps Bill Russell rookie card is easily one of the most iconic basketball cards ever made.
And it's one of my personal favorites...
The design is pretty straightforward but classy enough to pay tribute to one of the game's best defenders and overall players.
One thing I'll always remember about Russell was how he said that when he would block a shot, he'd always try to do it in a way in which he or a teammate could take possession.
He didn't launch the ball into the stands as you commonly see today...
I always thought that was so smart...
Who knows how many of his blocks turned into offensive possessions and then points for his team rather than just a ball sailing into the crowd?
That style of defense and his uncanny ability to rebound helped lead the Celtics to a dynasty and made him a legend at the same time.
And because of that, these days his rookie card is extremely popular and has grown to be one of the most valuable basketball cards in the hobby.
And in this guide, I go over the key things you should know before you buy.
Distinction: This is Bill Russell's only recognized rookie card. The 1957 Topps basketball set itself is one of the most iconic in the hobby and Russell’s rookie card is the key card to own. The card is a short-print, too, which makes it even more scarce and that only leads to higher prices.
Number: This is card #77 in a set of 80 cards.
Design: Topps went with a pretty straightforward design for its debut basketball card set. The vertical layout, full color imagery and two-tone color nameplate at the bottom made for a really nice design.
In many ways, these cards looked much like the Topps' baseball cards that year.
Russell is shown doing what he did best: playing defense. It would have been great seeing him blocking a shot or snagging a huge rebound but it was at least nice to see him in an action shot.
Reverse Side: The back of the card is printed with a vertical layout as well and contains his personal information and statistics from the previous season.
Those stats are replicated in the "Record Life" column as well since he had only had one season under his belt at that point.
There is also a nice write-up on the successes he enjoyed during his years in college and in the Olympics that led him to a promising professional career.
The cartoon player on the right side also reminded us of his enormous size and stature.
Condition Issues: Poor centering and low quality printing make it difficult to find the card in high grade.
Bill Russell Rookie Card Value
The first thing most collectors ask is: how much is a Julius Erving rookie card worth?
Even in poor condition, they typically sell for more than $1000.
That's how important this card is. It's one of the true classic basketball cards.
The key is finding one that hasn't been worn and torn over the years.
One that will stand up well against the strictest professional grading standards.
Because if you do, then you are talking some serious money. High five figure money...
Professional grading is the easiest way to help judge a card's value and Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) are usually thought to be the benchmark in that industry.
According to the PSA SMR price guide, current market values are:
PSA 9 MINT: $90,000
PSA 8 NM-MT: $25,000
PSA 7 NM: $9,500
So, if you have one of these cards in higher condition then you are looking at some pretty good value.
Bill Russell's Legacy
Bill Russell was one of the greatest and most exciting basketball players to ever play the game.
There may have been players come and go that were more flashy, but very few who were as dominant.
His defensive and rebounding skills fueled the Celtics to 11 championships during his 13 seasons in the NBA.
11 championships in 13 seasons...let that sink in...
Along the way, he would record a list of amazing achievements that included but are not limited to:
- 11 x NBA Champion
- 5x NBA MVP
- 12x NBA All-Star
- 4x NBA Rebounding Champion
- 2x NCAA Champion
- Olympic Gold Medalist
Again, those are just some of a huge list of accomplishments throughout his storied career.
He's one of only 7 players to have ever one an NCAA championship, Olympic gold medal and NBA Championship.
That tells you he pretty much dominated at every level and no matter where he played.
He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1975.
Bill Russell rookie cards will continue to remain high on the list of many basketball card collectors' want lists for quite some time.