Believe it or not, there was a time when rookie basketball cards were about as exciting to your average hobbyist as that checklist they pulled from their last wax pack.
Indeed, back in the 1980s, during the original hobby boom, it was tough for even the hottest of basketball players to make much noise in a market dominated by baseball cards. Heck, even football was a distant, distant second to the diamond when it came to capturing collector hearts … and dollars.
It took a good long while, and some of the most exciting stars in NBA history, but the tide slowly began to turn.
A large part of the credit for that has to go to Michael Jordan (who else?), whose first Threepeat with the Chicago Bulls elevated him to basketball legend status. Even then, though, Jordan’s 1986-87 Fleer rookie card didn’t sell for much more than the RCs of the latest baseball phenom.
Upper Deck issued a baseball card of Jordan in 1991, though, and it instantly became a hobby favorite and began to shine light on other hoops cards.
When Jordan retired from baseball in the mid-1990s and headed to the diamond, his star — and his basketball cards — rose even further.
By the time Air Jordan returned to the court a year later, Shaquille O’Neal and other young stars were really starting to light up the hobby with their own rookie cards.
The 25+ years since have seen hoops continued to eat into baseball’s hobby market share, with huge names like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and many others flooding the buckets with their shots and the market with their rookie cards.
Today, you can pretty much count on every basketball product yielding a crop of new rookie cards that continue to drive the market forward.
And you can find nearly all of those cards for sale through various online venues … but, of course, there’s still one leading marketplace when it comes to where collectors turn to find our next cardboard conquests.
Yeah, it’s eBay, no doubt.
And, as you can see from the 25 most watched rookie basketball cards on eBay right now (down below), the hoops market shows no signs of slowing down. For further proof, check out these other basketball cards setting fire to the market:
- Larry Bird Basketball Cards – Most Watched on eBay!
- Kobe Bryant Rookie Cards on eBay — Most Watched!
Check back often, too, as these listings are updated on a continual basis.
1980 Topps Basketball Larry Bird Magic Johnson Julius Erving Rookie Card RC HOF
Watchers: 111 # of Bids: 27
2003 Topps Chrome LeBron James ROOKIE Card #111 BGS 9.5 GEM MINT Draft Pick #1
Watchers: 104 # of Bids: 32
LEBRON JAMES PSA 10 2003-04 TOPPS CHROME BASKETBALL #111 ROOKIE CARD RC GEM MINT
Watchers: 89 # of Bids: 63
1996 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Rookie Card RC High Grade Possible 9.0 10
Watchers: 77 # of Bids: 31
2018-19 Panini Opulence Shai Gilgeous Alexander Rookie On Card Auto Gold 7/10
Watchers: 75 # of Bids: 24
2018-19 Immaculate Acetate Moments Luka Doncic RC Rookie Signed On Card AUTO /99
Watchers: 72 # of Bids: 22
2021-22 Spectra Austin Reaves 75th Anniversary Rpa (50/75) On Card Auto!
Watchers: 72 # of Bids: 23
Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer rookie card #57, PSA 8, NM-MT, beautiful card
Watchers: 70 # of Bids: 30
Tyrese Halliburton 2020 Panini Prizm RC Purple Prizm /99 Rookie Card SP SSP
Watchers: 67 # of Bids: 10
HUGE NATIONAL TREASURES ROOKIE PATCH AUTO LEBRON JAMES PRIZM RPA SPORTS CARD LOT
Watchers: 64 # of Bids: 42
Jalen Williams 17/40 Rookie Auto FOTL 2022-23 Panini Origins Basketball Card
Watchers: 63 # of Bids: 15
2018-19 Panini Revolution SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER RC ON CARD AUTO THUNDER Rookie
Watchers: 62 # of Bids: 7
TYRESE HALIBURTON 2020 Mosaic PURPLE PRIZM SP Rookie Card RC /49 PACERS KINGS
Watchers: 61 # of Bids: 19
Alperen Sengun 2021-22 ROOKIE RC Immaculate RPA ON CARD AUTO #138 Rockets /28
Watchers: 61 # of Bids: 18
HUGE NATIONAL TREASURES ROOKIE PATCH AUTO PRIZM OPTIC SPORTS CARD COLLECTION LOT
Watchers: 61 # of Bids: 21
2022-23 Panini Donruss Malaki Branham Next Day RC On Card Auto Spurs ND-MBS SSP
Watchers: 59 # of Bids: 15
2020-21 Optic ANTHONY EDWARDS Red Choice /88 Rated Rookie RC SP (beautiful Card)
Watchers: 59 # of Bids: 24
1980 Topps Magic Johnson Rookie Card Larry Bird RC Julius Erving PSA 7 Near Mint
Watchers: 56 # of Bids: 23
2021-22 Impeccable Cade Cunningham RC Rookie On Card Auto 24/25 Pistons SSP
Watchers: 56 # of Bids: 21
2022-23 Panini Donruss Elite Jalen Williams Pen Pals Red /49 On Card Auto RC
Watchers: 55 # of Bids: 24
1992-93 Upper Deck Shaquille O'Neal Trade Card Rookie Card RC #1b PSA 10 (Rare!)
Watchers: 55 # of Bids: 18
Jeremy Sochan Rookie 3/3 Swirl FOTL 2022-23 Panini Origins Basketball Card
Watchers: 54 # of Bids: 16
2017 Panini Donruss Optic Jayson Tatum On Card Autograph PSA Mint 9! SSP!
Watchers: 54 # of Bids: 22
HUGE ROOKIE PATCH AUTO GRADED SLAB PSA AUTOGRAPH RPA SPORTS CARD COLLECTION LOT
Watchers: 54 # of Bids: 17
Jason Richardson 2021-22 Immaculate Rookie #1/1 RC Sneak Peek Laces Card Suns🔥U
Watchers: 54 # of Bids: 9