Every basketball fan has a hero. You may be the quintessential Michael Jordan fan or favors the contemporaries like LeBron James or Stephen Curry. Moreover, owning something from your favorite team’s emblem is pure joy and accomplishment.
Holding something that symbolizes the team and the person you idolize the most is the height of triumph for a collector and an enthusiast. And displaying it in your home on an altar dedicated to your passion is anything but ordinary.
You may start with the most obvious thing to collect, like National Basketball Association (NBA) cards, and expand your collection to have your favorite player’s most sought-after authentic and replica NBA jersey. Moreover, you can fill your space with these prized collectibles and trade them for big bucks in the future.
Today, the internet is abuzz with NBA collectibles that you can’t physically display on your shelf. They’re blockchain trading cards that work as digital basketball cards. These non-fungible tokens (NFT) reached a market size of USD$1 billion in 2021.
If you want to begin collecting merchandise for your basketball passion, here’s a guide to help you out:
1. Basketball Cards
The very first basketball card was issued in 1948 by a company named Bowman. Today, the most valuable card they made is that of George Mikan, a 6’10” big man of the Los Angeles (LA) Lakers who won seven championships and was considered the very first NBA superstar. His rookie card is now valued at USD$403,000.
Every basketball card has a number, so if you see the number 3/30, it means there are 30 cards in the set, and you have the third card, making it easier to track your collection. The player’s final year of listed statistics is printed on the back of the card. Two reputable companies graded the cards: Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) and Beckett Grading Services (BGS).
Today, the top three most expensive and coveted NBA cards are the following:
- Panini Stephen Curry autographed rookie card – sold for USD$5.9 million
- Upper Deck LeBron James autographed rookie card – sold for USD5.2 million
- Panini Luka Doncic autographed rookie card – sold for USD$4.6 million
The card’s value depends on the laws of supply and demand and the player’s popularity. One surge in price is that of Luka Doncic, which almost toppled the sale of the Mickey Mantle card. Luka’s popularity surged in his 5th season in the NBA. The Dallas Maverick player’s charisma and superstar qualities made him very popular with NBA fans worldwide, and his cards are always coveted in many auctions.
Luka Doncic’s rise to fame began in his early years in his country in Slovenia, so even before entering the NBA, he already had an extensive European fan base. Now in his early 20s, he has shown a unique basketball-playing strategy that can’t be compared with his contemporaries.
Basketball jerseys are the ultimate representation of your basketball hero and your favorite team. You can wear or frame them and display them on your wall for everyone to see. But some collectors get them for other reasons.
For one, the Milwaukee Bucks jersey soared in price because of the team’s poor performance between the years ’86 and ’93, when they changed the design of their jersey after some relatively good seasons. The same goes for the Philadelphia 76ers’ 91-94 jersey.
Today the most expensive jersey is that of Michael Jordan. The jersey he wore when he was still playing collegiate basketball at the University of Carolina. The light blue number 23 jersey is now valued at USD$1.38 million. Other in-demand jerseys in the top 10 are those of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Derrick Rose, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Chris Paul.
Shoes are another obsession of basketball fans. Wearing the identical shoe, their idol wore on the court gives them immense pride and victory, especially if it’s the same shoe the player wore in a championship.
Today, there’s no question that Michael Jordan dominates the shoe collection of every avid NBA fan, with the Air Force 1 making it to the top and the other Jordan retros that are hard to find. The rarest and most expensive is the Air Jordan 4 Travis Scott Purple. This colorway never made it to mass production, thus the rarity.
NBA players also have their line of shoes from many famed brands, which is the easiest way to access a shoe with their hero’s name on it. But you can also grab these signature shoes of outstanding basketball players like the following:
- Curry 7 – Stephen Curry
- KD13 – Kevin Durant
- Witness 5 – LeBron James
- Kyrie 7 – Kyrie Irving
- Harden Stepback – James Harden
- D Rose 11 – Derrick Rose
- Mamba Focus – Kobe Bryant
- Air Jordan XXXV – Michael Jordan
There are other basketball players with their own line of shoes. Remember that it’s best to purchase these from reliable sellers to get the highest quality shoes for your collection.
Posters are one of the cheapest and easiest merchandise you can collect. Some basketball enthusiasts sell signed posters of their favorite or famous basketball players. Otherwise, you can search high and low for these or print one. You can bring your poster to a game and ask your favorite players to sign it. Afterward, you can have it framed or displayed as is in your room or along with your other collections.
Magazines may be dead today because of the internet. Still, the printed edition of Sports Illustrated and other magazines with NBA superstars on the cover are sought after because of their rarity and because they won’t be printed again anytime in the future.
6. Blockchain-Based Trading Cards
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, basketball cards in digital versions are the in thing now. They are traded using the most advanced technology in the blockchain world. The cards are digital versions containing serial numbers, stats, and video highlights of the player. Today the most traded cards of this kind are from Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Luka Doncic.
To wear your heart on your sleeve as a fan is expected, but for a basketball fan to wear your heart on your back or display it on your wall is more apt. Whether you get a basketball jersey and wear it proudly as you dribble on the court or get a basketball card to trade with other fans like you, collecting merchandise has always been a massive part of the basketball culture.
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