The cards, which might we add aren't exactly a rarity (over 20,000 have been submitted for evaluation across the years), are one of the most popular basketball cards ever produced. But what propelled this pair to such a high worth is their incredible quality: in the current market, only 316 cards being circulated have ever received a Gem Mint 10 grading.
And to be at that quality, which can't be judged by the naked eye, the card needs to have four sharp corners, be well centred with no print marks.
“The key to what your Michael Jordan rookie card is worth has everything to do with condition – and you can’t really rely on our own naked eye evaluation. If it has four sharp corners and is well cantered with no print marks, it has a chance to earn a high grade. Grading any MJ rookie is worth it, though, if you have an ungraded one and you’re thinking of selling. And don’t buy an ungraded one unless you know what to look for. There are too many counterfeits,” explains Sports Collectors Daily writer Rich Mueller.
So what has made a card you could have pulled from a 50-cent pack at in the '80s one of sports collecting’s best investments? Simple: Jordan’s ascension to international superstar and the rise in popularity of basketball cards. Add “Last Dance” series on ESPN giving worldwide publicity to the 1990s Bulls, and it makes sense, because that interest in the highest-graded Jordan cards has exploded beyond the traditional sports card collecting audience.
While it's still a huge leap from the world’s most expensive baseball card (a rare 1-of-1 rookie player card featuring MLB All-Star, three-time American League MVP, and seven-time Silver Slugger Award recipient Mike Trout which fetched a eye-watering $5.5 million in August of 2020) it's definitely a solid swap of cash.