Buy the King: Invest In Lebron Rookie Cards

June 13, 2021

It’s been a rough year for LeBron. And as we have discussed before, performance can influence card value. But now, more than ever is the time to invest in Lebron rookie cards.

At age 36, “The King” started the season putting up MVP-caliber stats, but what could have been his fifth MVP was stripped away when he suffered a high-ankle sprain that was arguably the worst injury of his long career.

LeBron returned for a playoff run but never looked the same. With Anthony Davis out due to a groin injury, LeBron’s career was the first time he hasn’t looked capable of single-handedly carrying his team to the Finals.

After the Lakers fell by the wayside in the first round, we figured it was time to reevaluate Lebron’s place in the hobby. So, here’s our analysis of LeBrons cards and what you should do with them.

Whether on cardboard or NFT, Lebron is still king (picture taken from Bleacher Report).

LeBron’s Legacy and Importance to the Hobby

LeBron is a polarizing figure. He flops around. He complains. But he has won a lot of basketball games.

Therefore, there are not many lukewarm LeBron fans. People either love him or hate him.

No matter how you feel about LeBron personally, there’s an undeniable truth: he defined basketball for a generation of fans and sports card collectors. There was a decade of basketball in which all roads to the Eastern Conference Finals ran through him.

That is pretty damn impressive on its own. But, of course, James also had a few good years in the West to boot!

LeBron has almost unanimously solidified his place on the Mount Rushmore of hoopers. If he can continue to play at a high level, he very well could be basketball’s all-time leading scorer.

And, thanks to all of his on-court success, his cards will always have a huge market.

Trends with LeBron Card Prices

As the Lakers left the court after losing game six to the Suns, this was one of the all-time lows of LeBron’s career.

The card values reflect it.

A 2003-04 Topps Chrome PSA 9 Rookie recently sold for $4,100. The same card, on April 30, sold for $7,000.

It’s no secret that the market is cooling off a bit, at least for now, so that’s probably a factor in the decrease, but this is also a 40% drop in the card’s price in just about six weeks. So in no way can all of that be attributed to the market.

The Topps Chrome rookie is only one example. LeBron cards across the board are experiencing a pretty steep drop in price, and a wave of collectors anxiously await a chance to crown the next king of the NBA.

Don’t fall for this. Instead, as with any wise investment, buy as low as you can. LeBron’s recent struggles present an excellent opportunity to do so.

Here’s why…

Future Projections

Is LeBron heading toward the twilight of his career? Perhaps.

But this was also a terrible season for him and the Lakers. Don’t forget that it was only back in last October that we saw LeBron win the NBA finals. So, unfortunately, with the shortest off-season in NBA history, it makes sense that the 36-year-old picked up an injury.

When LeBron returned, he seemed off, too. Against a Phoenix team that should have struggled to defend him, he looked reluctant—or incapable—of backing down smaller defenders. Even in post touches, he resorted to kick-outs or fadeaways at a much higher clip than usual. The most likely explanation: his ankle was not nearly ready to support the force he needed for his usual tricks.

But, even if he truly is no longer capable of dominating a series, Lebron’s legacy is assured. He is one of the best basketball players of all time.

Don’t be surprised if a healthy LeBron returns next year and makes another Finals run. But, most importantly, don’t discount the long-term value of LeBron cards.

Your Best Options To invest in Lebron Rookie Cards

LeBron has many iconic cards. We have put together a list of the top three that could be great investments. To keep expectations reasonable, we refrained from listing rookie autographs. Instead, we focused on cards that are not in the five or six-figure range.

#1: Graded Topps Chrome Rookie

For a LeBron fan or collector, this is THE card to have. It is the closest thing he has to Jordan’s 1986 Fleer Rookie. Buying a graded one is the safest option, but be sure to search within your budget when it comes to which grade you buy. If you feel like shelling out some real money, a refractor of this card is a mega-investment for the future.

The Topps Chrome Lebron rookie is a classic. Shown here in black refractor form (picture taken from PSA).

#2: Graded Topps Rookie

Another classic card, this one features LeBron in his Draft Day suit. A word of caution: there are tons of reprints of this card on the market. So it is worth buying a graded version from PSA or BGS. It might cost upwards of $1,000, but you know you’re getting the real deal. Keep in mind that it very well could be a $10,000 card someday.

The Lebron Topps rookie, shows him on draft day (picture taken from Amazon).

#3: Graded Bowman Chrome RC

The Bowman is the third leg of the LeBron rookie trifecta. It’s a great-looking card and a slightly cheaper alternative to the Topps Chrome version. This card helped spark the chromium cards craze that has overtaken the hobby.

There was a time when Bowman basketball rookie cards were a thing (picture taken from Pinterest).

Bonus: 2012-13 Prizm LeBron

This card is not a rookie. But it is a fun and important card. It’s from the first Prizm set, and Prizm could be THE brand of basketball cards for a long, long time. Also, it’s Miami Heat LeBron. Villain LeBron. The bad guy who was a wrecking ball and could jump over anyone, Lebron. (Also, it’s his first championship).

The first Lebron Prizm has real style (picture taken from PicClick).

What Else Do I Need to Know About Buying the Lebron Dip?

We don’t have a crystal ball. However, it is unclear if there will ever be a better time to shell out some cash on Lebron cards. When the legendary player retires and enters the Hall of Fame, the prices will likely go up. We also can’t rule out a massive comeback next year.

Therefore, the combination of a softening market and Lebron down in the dumps may never reoccur. Get on it.

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