Michael Jordan Rookie Cards: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
Michael Jordan rookie cards have been and will continue to be some of the most highly desired cards in the entire hobby.
Jordan is routinely considered to be the greatest basketball players of all-time and arguably the most famous athlete the world has ever known...
Most of his rookie cards are not that hard to find but supply just cannot seem to ever satisfy demand.
That puts some of them high on the list of the most valuable basketball cards in the hobby.
And in this guide, we walk through each of his rookie cards and discuss what makes each of them so special.
Let's jump right in!
Michael Jordan Rookie Card Value
The first thing most collectors ask is: how much is a Michael Jordan rookie card worth?
So, before we review each card later below, let's get this out of the way first.
All Jordan rookies are valuable but depending on the card and its condition, some of them can be worth $25,000 or more.
The table below will give you a rough idea of the estimated values of each card in a given condition level as determined by third party grading company PSA.
*Note: PSA no longer grades the 1984 Star Jordan so prices referenced are estimated as graded by Beckett (BGS).
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1985 Prism Jewel
'86 Fleer Sticker
1984 Star #101
Estimated BGS 9 Value: $20,000
While the 1986 Fleer gets the nod for being Jordan's "mainstream" rookie card, the 1984 Star #101 is considered to be his "true" rookie card.
The distinction between the two lies mostly in how both cards were made available to the collecting community.
While Fleer's distribution was on a wide, national scale through many locations, the Star cards were limited to mainly hobby channels and team promotions.
From 1983 to 1985, Star was the NBA's official licensee for producing cards but they just didn't distribute these cards on a mass scale.
For that reason, they lack the "mainstream" status and are regarded more as oddball or novelty extended rookie cards (XRC).
Furthermore, these cards remain controversial because it was found in the 1990's that the original owner of Star had been working with a print shop to print new Star cards but backdate them to the 1980's.
Many of these new cards were sold and circulated into the hobby and it became difficult to judge authenticity of Star cards.
In fact, Beckett is now the only third party grading company that will still authenticate and grade these cards.
Front Design: The front of the card contains a full color image of Jordan coming down with a rebound surrounded by rich, red borders.
The Bulls logo, his name and position are all shown at the bottom.
Reverse Design: The back of the card contains his personal information and statistics from his college days at North Carolina.
As noted in the upper right corner, Star was the NBA's official licensee that year and the several copyrights at the bottom add additional validity.
Condition Issues: You almost always see these cards with poor centering. It is tough to find examples of this card that have been graded by Beckett to be in BGS 9 (and rarely BGS 9.5) condition.
1985 Interlake Bulls #1
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $11,500
Measuring 5" x 7", these oversized cards were not an officially licensed NBA product and were distributed by the Boy Scouts of America and the Interlake Youth Incentive Program in the Chicago area.
The lack of the NBA license and the extreme regional distribution prevent this card from earning mainstream rookie card status.
Front Design: I've always loved the image on this card as it captures Jordan's habit of sticking his tongue out while getting ready to blow past a defender and score.
And I love those old Nikes he's wearing, too.
Notice the Boy Scouts of America and Interlake Youth Incentive Program logos along the bottom.
Reverse Design: Like many regional oddball issues, the back of these cards is blank.
Condition Issues: Centering is a typical challenge with these cards but because of their large size, it is also difficult to find examples that haven't been dinged up and damaged over the years.
1985 Merchante Campeona Baloncesto Liga
Estimated PSA 9 Value: $4,500
Arguably the rarest of all Jordan rookies, these stickers were distributed in Spain during the mid-'80s.
You can imagine how many of them were peeled off and stuck in albums or other surfaces.
That makes finding them in high grade a bit difficult.
Front Design: Jordan is pictured in his USA uniform during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the last time a United States amateur men's basketball team won gold.
The borders are covered in blue stars giving it a bright, albeit retro look and feel overall.
Reverse Design: There are actually two variations of these stickers when it comes to their reverse sides.
They both feature advertisements for yogurt but contain different wording, imagery, and of course coloration.
The blue variation is considerably more rare than the red.
Condition Issues: As mentioned previously, because these are stickers, that means many of them were peeled off and stuck to surfaces long ago.
And being stickers, they're more susceptible to wear anyway as opposed to sturdier cardboard stock.
According to the PSA population report, none of these stickers has ever attained PSA 10 Gem Mint status.
1985 Nike #2
Estimated BGS 9 Value: $20,000
This image of Jordan dunking in front a of a backdrop of the Chicago skyline was everywhere during the 1980's as Nike was promoting their "Air Jordan" sneakers.
These oversized cards themselves were produced as promotional material for his famous shoes.
Front Design: The front of the card lacks any borders or information about Jordan.
The only items to accompany this infamous image of him are the Nike logo in the lower left and the Air Jordan logo in the upper left.
Reverse Design: The back of the card is just as enjoyable as the front as Nike summarizes Jordan's personal information at the top along with 9 of his career highlights below.
You can see just how impressive of a resume he had up to that point in time and Nike was very smart for pairing up with him.
Condition Issues: Like any oversized card that would not fit in traditional holders, these are susceptible to showing dings and scratches.
1985 Prism Jewel
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $25,000
One of the more unusual cards on this list is Michael Jordan’s 1985 Prism Jewel Sticker issue.
Their distribution was limited and they were reportedly sold out of vending machines that sat in store fronts.
Front Design: The dual imagery of Jordon, facsimile signature, and reflective background of this sticker certainly catches the eye.
I really love the reverse dunk that was chosen for the action shot.
Reverse Design: The back of the stickers were blank.
Condition Issues: Like all stickers, many of these were peeled off their backs long ago so those that do survive intact are few and far between.
And often times the shiny surfaces on the front will show scratching and other wear.
1986 Fleer #57
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $27,500
The most desirable and widely considered to be "the Jordan rookie" is his 1986 Fleer issue.
As mentioned previously, Fleer distributed these on a mass scale so they're not even that scarce.
But, even though they're not hard to find, demand for them is still strong enough to make this one of the most valuable Michael Jordan cards in the hobby.
It's amazing that the 1986 Fleer basketball set was once considered a flop when they were first released and nowadays unopened, original boxes of them sell for monster five-figure price tags.
Front Design: I don't think Fleer could have chosen a better image for this card as it perfectly captures the essence of who Jordan was: an unstoppable scorer capable of high-flying acrobatics.
The signature red, white, and blue border on the card makes it instantly recognizable and perfectly complements the imagery of Jordan.
Reverse Side: The back doesn't pack nearly the same excitement as the front but that's to be expected.
The Bulls logo sits atop Jordan's personal information and his statistics from his first two seasons in the NBA giving the back of the card a very straightforward feel to it.
Condition Issues: The multi-colored borders on the front do make it a challenge to find the card without signs of wear and chipping.
And, unfortunately, centering can be a problem as well.
1986 Fleer Stickers #8
Estimated PSA 10 Value: $8,000
Fleer also included stickers of 11 of the game's biggest stars in their iconic 1986 set.
Interestingly, in perfect PSA 10 grade, Jabbar's sticker can command a higher price tag than Jordan's because of how few exist in that condition.
Front Design: A young Jordan is shown driving hard to the basket past New Jersey’s Otis Birdsong with that signature tongue flash.
The placement of the yellow nameplate along the left side was an interesting move but I think it worked out just fine in this case.
Reverse Design: The back of the sticker looks very similar to the back of his base card in this set.
There are no statistics for Jordan but Fleer did include a nice write-up about Jordan's early professional accomplishments as well as a nod to his time in the NCAA.
Condition Issues: Not surprisingly, the stickers were often peeled off and stuck on any number of surfaces making them basically worthless.
And those that survived intact are difficult to find in top quality condition because centering is usually an issue.
Michael Jordan's Legacy
Jordan spent 15 years in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards dominating opposing defenders.
Widely considered to be the greatest to ever play the game, Jordan was unstoppable on offense and a shut down defender on the other side of the ball.
Along the way, he would achieve the following:
- NBA Rookie of the Year
- 6x NBA Champion
- 5x MVP
- 6x NBA Finals MVP
- 14x All-Star
- 10x All-NBA First Team
- 9x All-Defensive First Team
- 10x Scoring Champion
- NCAA Champion
- 2x Olympic Gold Medalist
These are just some of his accomplishments as the full list is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
He was enshrined into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2009 for his achievements and contribution to the game.