30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Digging Up Buried Treasure

Imagine digging through some old boxes of cards and stumbling across cards worth hundreds of dollars.  That's exactly what happened to me last year...

While digging through some of my lower end rookie card boxes, I discovered a 2008-09 Topps Chrome rookie card refractor of Russell Westbrook.  I immediately knew it was worth something, but had no idea that they were selling upwards of $250.

That discovery motivated me to look through my higher end stuff stored at my parent's house.  I wasn't really surprised to find a bunch of cards that fetch anywhere from $5 to $50.  There was actually a time when I was really into collecting basketball cards.

Now I realize that most of my readers are baseball fans.  Don't worry.  I won't be turning this into a basketball card blog anytime soon.  In fact... if you're patient, I've included a nice piece of baseball buried treasure for all of you at the end of this post.

With that being said... basketball is very popular all around the world... so there's a huge market for their memorabilia.

Today I'm going to show off seven examples of basketball cards that represent some of the most valuable cards in my sports card collection.

And maybe... just maybe... even some of the baseball card collectors who read this blog will be able to appreciate these basketball cards.  Are you ready?  Here we go...

Let's kick things off with some rare Air...

#1:  1996/97 Fleer Ultra Starring Role #4 Michael Jordan

Insertion Rate:  1:288 Packs (1:12 Boxes)
Recent eBay Sales (Raw Copies): $395.95 (BIN in March) and $469 (Auction in January)

Michael Jordan inserts have been popular for decades... especially the rare ones.  This acetate insert is truly a beautiful card.

#2:  1998/99 UD Black Diamond Quad Diamond #6 Michael Jordan

Print Run:  #'d 091/150
Recent eBay Sales (Raw Copies): $50 (BIN in February), $112.50 (Auction in February), $191.50+ (Best Offer in March), $191.50+ (Best Offer in April), and  $300 (Auction in January)

The first thirteen cards of the 1998/99 Black Diamond set were Michael Jordan cards.  If you're familiar with this product, then you know that each card had three parallels.  The Quad Diamonds are the rarest.

There's a pretty big price range in regards to completed listings on raw copies, but I definitely call the $50 sale an outlier.

#3:  1998/99 Metal Universe Planet Metal #1 Michael Jordan

Insertion Rate:  1:36 Packs
Recent eBay Sales (Raw Copies): $242.53 (Auction in April), $249.99 (BIN in March), $267+ (Best Offer in April),  and $275 (BIN in March)

This card is sort of a mystery to me, because they weren't exactly tough pulls.  It's definitely a beautiful card, but there's no way that justifies the prices collectors are paying for these.  Maybe 1998/99 Metal Universe were printed in short supply or something.

#4:  1997/98 Metal Universe Championship Galaxy #1 Michael Jordan

Insertion Rate:  1:192 Packs (1:8 Boxes)
Recent eBay Sales (Raw Copies): $???? (Best Offer in March)

This card is the other mystery card.  Not in regards to rarity.  With 15 cards in the set, the odds of pulling Mr. Jordan are 1:2880 packs, which is one per four cases.

No, the mystery has to do with putting a value on this card.  There's only one raw copy currently up on eBay and the vendor is asking $800 (or best offer).  I'm very curious to see what this card ends up selling for.

Okay... now let's take a look at the non-Michael Jordan stuff.

#5:  2009/10 Absolute Memorabilia RPM #146 James Harden

Print Run:  #'d 5/5
Recent eBay Sales (Raw Copies): ????

There are only five copies of this card in existence... and none have popped up recently.  However... the standard RPM #'d to 499 sold for $125.95 back on March 18th.  I think it's safe to say that this card is worth more than that.

#6:  2008/09 Topps Signature Autographs #TSA-RW Russell Westbrook

Print Run:  #'d 125/184
Recent eBay Sales (Raw Copies): $104.49 (Auction in January)

This card is the cheapest card in this post, but I included it because I built this set and I know exactly how difficult it was to acquire this card.  Out of the 85 card set, there are only five cards #'d to less than 200 and Westbrook is one of them.

To put things into perspective... just check out the print runs on these hall of famers who had autographs in this set:  John Stockton (676), Jerry West (649), Larry Bird (499), Shaquille O'Neal (825), Bill Russell (499), David Robinson (899), and John Havlicek (799).

#7: 1999-00 Topps Gallery Autographs #TD Tim Duncan

Insertion Rate:  1:2,637 Packs (1:109.87 Boxes)
Recent eBay Sales (Raw Copies): None

I've saved the best for last.  This is hands down my favorite card out of the seven featured in this post.   I've always enjoyed the way #21 played the game.  He was quiet, yet affective.  And when I stumbled across this autograph, I was pretty stoked to find it.

Duncan hasn't signed for a lot of products over the years... and unfortunately none of these have popped up recently on eBay lately.  However similar Topps cards have sold anywhere from $291.78 to $425 on eBay.

Okay... I'm sure some of you are wondering...

What am I planning on doing with these seven cards?  Well... the Jordans are part of my Jordan PC and probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon.  The Duncan will go into my basketball hall of fame autograph collection.

As for the Harden and Westbrook... I'll probably throw them up on eBay eventually.  Although... I'm planning on sending in some cards into PSA to get graded, so they might be part of that submission.  Or who knows... maybe I bring them back down to Vegas in a few weeks and rebury them.

By they way... if you're a baseball fan and you've stuck around this long, here's the baseball buried treasure I promised...

Back in 2012, I found this signed Dave Parker jersey on Steiner for $10.

Yeah.  That's not a typo.  $10.

I probably should have this jersey framed and displayed somewhere... but sadly this piece of baseball memorabilia is buried somewhere.  My office?  My buddy's garage?  My parent's home?  Who knows... I'm sure I'll dig it up eventually.

What about you...

Ever dig through your collection and discover some buried treasure?

Okay... since this might be the last basketball post of 2018... this might be my only chance to feature this song on the blog:

Happy Sunday and sayonara!


  1. You need more NBA content.

    1998-99 metal universe is indeed a rarer set. There are no rookie cards so the flippers generally avoided it. They just kind of disappeared over the years, you rarely see any for sale...although considering I've completed the set I don't really look much anymore.

  2. The best I've ever done is dif through my cards and discover a Pat Tillman rookie that I didn't even know that I had because Tillman wasn't a big name at the time it went in the box. It was very cool to stumble upon it 12 years later.

  3. Uh yeah dude, I'm sure I've got dozens of high-end MJ inserts lying around somewhere ;P Seriously, those are some fantastic finds! The Duncan auto has me drooling. Great cards!

    You can post as much basketball as you like. I've never even seen 90% of this stuff, so it's fun to learn about what I missed in the 15+ years I wasn't following the sport.

  4. You may not collect basketball anymore, but judging by those couple of cards, you must have one heck of a collection!

  5. makes me want to look at mt Jordan PC

  6. Uh, no. You're rich, man! I'm no baseball snob. Show us what you got.

  7. I collect primarily vintage basketball, so I'm always a fan of posts like this! More! Encore!

  8. Oh Crap! Sell Fuji sell! Strike while the iron is hot-in all seriousness these are fantastic inserts-as bad as the Redbirds were for a good part of the 90s I still can't seem to find the rarer inserts and parallels.

  9. Damn, those are some high end cards. I've noticed that basketball inserts from the late 90s really can be quite rare these days.

  10. Holy smokes! Congrats on the great finds. The good thing about those is I don't think they will be losing any value. All are established superstars.

  11. Dang Fuji just like the Westbrook from last year...you got a lot of BBall MOSNTERS I'm jealous of!! I LOVE those MJ Inserts and of course the Timmy auto!!

  12. My favorites are the Harden and the Duncan. I never was much of a Jordan fan, but his cards are $$$.

  13. That's some awesome stuff Fuji. Love those basketball cards. The Parker jersey ain't too shabby either.

  14. Billy Kingsley - Thanks for the heads up. It's really weird. For not having any rookies, boxes are crazy expensive. As for more NBA content... I stopped watching the sport, so it's not looking very good.

    Trevor P - Last time I checked, his cards were worth some serious money. But that's expected. The guy is a hero.

    Chris - This is about as high-end as it gets. The other stuff sells for less than $100. Although... I did find some Durants and Currys awhile back that I posted on this blog.

    Jon - Thanks. I still really love my Kobe and MJ collection. Even if I eventually dump my basketball stuff... I'll hold onto those.

    John Miller - Do it. It's seriously insane what some of his 90's inserts sell for.

    Hackenbush - This is pretty much most of my high-end stuff. I have a few cool basketball sets that I might share in the future since there's some interest on this post.

    KO Rob - Basketball vintage? I have a Maravich rookie card. Dr. J too. Gonna get them graded before I share them on this blog though.

    B Man - I had plans on bringing the Westbrook and Harden to the show, but it looks like I won't be able to make it to Tristar. The MJ's and Duncan are going to be cornerstones of my collection.

    The Lost Collector - I think it's because it's a sport collected by people around the world... so there are a lot of collectors outside of North America.

    Matthew Scott - I sure hope so. Not gonna take any chances though. If I have it might way, I'll be getting rid of the Harden and Westbrook soon.

    Chris P - I could say the same thing about all of those sweet cards you pulled/bought last year. Your collection is insane!

    RAZ - As crazy as this sounds... I think I picked up the Harden in a YouTube mystery pack years ago for like $10 or something. And that Duncan probably made its way onto my Top 10 basketball cards list.

    Collecting Cutch - Yeah. I've gotta find a way to display it or something. But for $10... I guess I could wear it and not feel bad about doing it.