Do Michael Jordan Rookie Population Trends Impact Prices?

Whether or not Michael Jordan is considered the greatest basketball player of all time is a debate that is ongoing. And arguably, your age may have a huge influence over your opinion considering greats like George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Regardless of which basketball great is your own GOAT, owning a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card has been one of the Holy Grail cards of the modern era in sports collectibles.

Jordan’s rookie cards have been extremely popular. The cards are also quite plentiful with a massive graded population. There is a reprint from a decade later, and PSA itself warns that the 1986 Fleer card is the most widely counterfeit card of them all. Jordan’s rookie card has also plummeted from its early 2021 zenith. The card’s graded population has also surged and going to any card show proves that dealer after dealer has multiple Michael Jordan rookie cards available in multiple grades.

And despite all of the risks and concerns, owning a Michael Jordan rookie is still a major source of pride for vintage and modern era collectors. Calling bottoms and tops in asset prices of any asset class is nearly impossible over time. One major issue that is likely at play with Michael Jordan and other key rookie card prices is the classic supply-demand issue in economics has suffered due to an endless growth in the graded population of these cards — There are thousands of rookie Michael Jordan out there and values of $8,000 or $50,000 or $250,000 even after a pullback can be quite prohibitive for many collectors.

As Collectors Dashboard evaluates collectibles as an alternative asset class, we use the same metrics to evaluate high-end collectibles in the same manner as if they were a stock or bond or property. They cost basically the same as many traditional investments, so why not use supply-demand and the emotions of the moment inside of wondering if an asset has upside or whether the risk-reward is balanced or negative.

After sports card prices reached their zenith in early 2021, Jordan rookie card prices were worse than a correction. In stock market terms, it was a market crash because prices fell by more than 50%. And as the summer of 2022 approaches, the economy is softening up, inflation is high and the stock market itself is teetering on a bear market.

It cannot be said enough that card buyers can never expect that they are going to be guaranteed a profit. There are no guaranteed profits in stocks, bonds or real estate. So how could buyers of collectibles expect guaranteed profits? This was learned the hard way by countless sports card buyers in 2021.

Collectors Dashboard wanted to look back over population trends as the summer months of 2022 approach. As of May 22, 2022 there were 21,264 PSA graded examples of the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card (#57). That is even without the 1,191 “+” grades and without the 1,082 examples with qualifiers that hurt the value.

Collectors Dashboard evaluated the 1986 Fleer Jordan #57 populations as of July 1, 2021 and we wanted to do a comparison based on the current data as of May 22, 2022 in just the base grade examples without “+” and “Q” qualifiers:

  • The new population of PSA 7 was 3,921 cards, up 7.9% from 3,634 graded examples on July 1, 2021.
  • The new population of PSA 8 was 8,280 cards, up 3.5% from the 7,996 graded examples on July 1, 2021.
  • The new population of PSA 9 was 2,857 examples, up 2.5% from the 2,788 graded examples on July 1, 2021.
  • The new population of PSA 10 was still 318 graded examples — the same as on July 1, 2021.

While the PSA 10 population of Michael Jordan rookie cards has been static, prices have not exactly surged. There was even a fresh scare of a potentially horrible price sale before the transaction was shown to have serious problems and the authorities have become involved.

Even as of July 1, 2021, the 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie’s massive population had been rapidly approaching 22,000 total graded cards in all grades combined from the PSA population report alone. If you add up the “+” and “Q” cards into the mix as of May 22, 2022, that graded population from PSA alone is now 23,537 cards.

The PSA 8 graded examples as of July 1, 2021 came with a very general price range of $7,200 to $8,000 per PSA 8 example at that time. This is what we consider the “Zone” because it is the PSA 8 grade that is the most widely available. That is the higher grade that also saw the largest supply gain (at 7.9%) in less than a year. There have been some weak sales in recent auctions tracked by PSA as well, but there may be the issue that “not all PSA grades count equally when cards are compared side by side.”

These are the prices that have been seen most recently, although this is not including some auction house results and it does not include private party transactions:

  • 5/22/2022 for $6,148.80 (Memory Lane)
  • 5/16/2022 for $8,077.00 (eBay)
  • 5/16/2022 for $7,450.00 (eBay)
  • 5/16/2022 for $8,312.00 (eBay)
  • 5/13/2022 for $7,900.00 (eBay)
  • 5/13/2022 for $9,244.00 (eBay)
  • 5/13/2022 for $6,900.00 (Heritage)
  • 5/13/2022 for $7,200.00(Heritage)
  • 5/13/2022 for $7,500.00 (Heritage)
  • 5/9/2022 for $7,900.00 (eBay)
  • 5/3/2022 for $8,100.00 (eBay)
  • 4/25/2022 for $8,100.00 (Robert Edward Auctions)
  • 4/25/2022 for $8,100.00 (Robert Edward Auctions)
  • 4/5/2022 for $7,990.00 (eBay)
  • 4/4/2022 for $7,300.00 (eBay)
  • 4/4/2022 for $8,396.00 (eBay)
  • 3/31/2022 for $8,600.00 (eBay)

The peak of the Michael Jordan Fleer rookies at the PSA 8 level was in February 2021 when prices went above $20,000 — to levels above $28,000 in “Auction” formats. At that zenith there were also at least two PWCC Vault auctions which saw prices above the $30,000 level. The new prices are still determined by many factors on top of condition, but by and large the most common PSA 8 auction prices are still taking place in the $7,000 to $8,000 range.