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34 Years After Final Game, Maravich Cards Still Resonate

After  creating a lot of publicity for basketball for his college wizardry at LSU and setting many scoring records, Pete Maravich entered the NBA as the third pick in the 1970 NBA Draft.  With his floppy socks, amazing passing skills and seemingly impossible shot-making ability, Maravich was the guy every kid growing up in the late 1960’s wanted to be.  Pete Maravich basketball cards remain among the most sought after in the vintage market.  His death at age 40 more than 25 years ago has made him a virtual hoops saint, forever remembered as youthful and vibrant.

1970-71 Topps Pete MaravichThe playing career of “The Pistol” is covered in full by Topps cards.  Topps got back into basketball cards in 1969-70 and the next year Maravich debuted in the NBA.  The most important card for a Maravich collector is his Topps rookie card, #123 in 1970-71 Topps.  The oversized and colorful card shows Maravich grasping a basketball  and has a green background.  The back of the card calls Maravich the “most prolific scorer in the history of college basketball”, and with an average of 44.2 points per game that was a correct statement.

Grades do play a big part in a Maravich rookie’s value, as eBay sales recently have shown a mint 9 reach a price of $2,000 while his PSA 8 cards are $400 to $600 in price.  Some ungraded cards of good quality have sold for around $200.  Without a doubt, Maravich is the key to the set.

Pete Maravich 1971-72 trio stickerIn 1971-72, Topps provided collectors with two Maravich items.  There is card #55 and his 1971-72 Topps Trios insert sticker, #22 which Maravich shares with John Havlicek and Bob Kauffman.  Recently a regular PSA 9 Maravich card sold for $312 at auction.

There is a big drop in price from the first two NBA seasons of Maravich cards to his 1972-73 card.  Ungraded cards can sell for $20, while a graded PSA 9 Maravich sold for $54.80 recently.  The  picture of Maravich dribbling the ball through his legs on the front of the card is a better indication of his basketball game than his earlier Topps cards without any action or movement.  The way the Hawks name along the bottom of the card increases in height is a good design feature too.

Icee Bear Maravich 1971-72There is also the 1972-73 Icee Bear Pete Maravich, with a posed picture on the front and a bear spinning a basketball on one hand while drinking from the frozen beverage held with his other hand on the back.

True die-hard Maravich collectors will chase the very hard to find 1972-73 Comspec Maravich card.

His 1973-74 Topps card brings out the moustache for the first time on cardboard, giving him a different look to what he had at LSU and in 1974-75 Pete Maravichhis early NBA years.   In 1974-75 Topps, he is on Team Leader and League Leader cards for his play with the Atlanta Hawks while his regular card in the set, #10, has the word JAZZ on the front due to the big trade that sent him back to Louisiana.  In four seasons with the Hawks, Maravich averaged 24.3 points per game.

The New Orleans Jazz were hoping that the addition of Maravich would save their franchise.  That didn’t happen, as they would relocate to Utah later, although Maravich did lift his numbers and helped the Jazz play a more exciting game of basketball.  His card in 1975-76 Topps, #75, is inexpensive and it doesn’t have a great picture on the front, with Maravich standing with his hands on his hips.  There was also a Team Leader card that featured the Pistol.

The giant 1976-77 Topps set has a couple of superb Maravich cards, #60 is the regular card with a picture on the front that looks to show him working hard on defense while #130 celebrates him being First Team All-NBA.  A few other items from those years that Maravich collectors may want to pursue is the rare and large 1977-78 Pepsi All-Stars card and 1977-78 Dell Flipbook, and maybe even the 1976-77 MSA Drinking Cup which is a big white Pete Maravich 1977-78 Toppscup with a picture of Maravich on the side.

The 1977-78 Topps Pete Maravich, #20, shows him sitting on the bench for the Jazz.  His 1978-79 Topps #80 card has one of the best action shots of his career on it, as he floats to the basket and evades the defender as he goes in for the two.  These cards, and his last card for the Jazz in 1978-79 Topps, are around in large numbers and can be bought for $5 in ungraded form.  There are also Sportscaster Series cards of Maravich and hard to find Big Shots Postcards to collect that were released around this time, as well as the rare 1978-79 Royal Crown Cola #21 Pete Maravich card and his 1979-80 RC Cola can.

1980-81 MaravichFor the first card of him as a Celtic, and the last card of Maravich produced during his NBA career, collectors can decide if they want a “Truck” on the card with him or “DJ” and “World B”.  The three-panel Topps cards don’t cost a lot so collectors can get both, the Maravich card with Dwight Jones and Leonard “Truck” Robinson and the card Maravich shares with Dennis “DJ” Johnson and Lloyd Free, who would go on to change his name.

While the playing career of Maravich in the NBA was over, his basketball skills didn’t go away, and neither did his basketball cards.  As one of the biggest retired legends taking part in the old-timers exhibitions during the All-Star festivities, Maravich was included in the 1985 Star Schick Legends set.  Maravich is also part of a 6-card set called 1984-85 Miller Lite/NBA All-Star Charity Classic.

While past superstars of the NBA are a regular inclusion in Panini products of today, that wasn’t the case in card releases  2001 Greats of the Game Feel the Game Classics Maravicha decade or two ago.  Maravich collectors will find some cards they need in 1993 Action Packed Hall of Fame, 1996 Topps Stars, 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends and 2001-02 Upper Deck Legends.  There is a piece of NBA court on the 2001-02 Upper Deck Legends Legendary Floor Maravich card while his first jersey card was his 2001 Greats of the Game Feel the Game Classics card, and has a piece of his college uniform.

One of his earlier NBA jersey cards is also one that is easier to find than others, the 2006-07 Bowman Sterling #26 card shows Maravich as a Celtic and includes a swatch of jersey.  Maravich’s 2007-08 Artifacts Conference Pairings card that he shares with Magic Johnson has a piece of a Jazz uniform.  One of those #CPJM cards sold on eBay recently for $80.

There are Maravich game-used jersey cards available today but they do sell quickly.  Collectors can also watch Panini’s youtube video called “How’d They Do That: Panini America Makes a Pete Maravich Game-Worn Jersey Card” to see how his 2012-13 Gold Standard Basketball card was made.  Some fans may want to turn away when scissors get taken to his #44 jersey but just as a basketball team cuts the nets so everyone can have a piece, the one jersey does provide a lot of cards for many Maravich fans.  Those Black Gold cards have likely found homes with collectors who don’t intend to sell them.  One sold last year for $351 on eBay, although there is a chance one or two of them are still hidden in an unopened box somewhere.

Maravich-StocktonJazz fans can find some interesting cards in Topps products from 2007-08.  There are 2007-08 Topps Co-Signers cards that Maravich shares with either John Stockton, a hero to Jazz fans, and Deron Williams, probably not as popular.  To get all three on the one card, search for the #RIP31 2007-08 Topps Rip Card Combinations which has Maravich, Stockton and Williams.

In 2010-11 Limited there was a card, with three parallel versions too, that had Maravich as well as George Mikan and Wilt Chamberlain.  A unique player with a basketball game all his own, it must have been difficult for card companies to figure out which players deserved a spot on a card next to Maravich.

The 2006-07 Upper Deck Trilogy Generations Past and Present Memorabilia card of Maravich and Allen Iverson does put two scorers together, although they seem like an odd fit, and the Maravich cards that also have “Big Baby” Glen Davis, Tyrus Thomas or Shaq on them are strange too until the LSU connection is seen.

Maravich collectors do have to be quick on the bidding finger as sometimes low-numbered Maravich cards do appear.  Five cards were made for UD Black called Octo-Jerseys that had game-used memorabilia pieces from Maravich, McHale, West, Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain, Robertson, Frazier and Moses Malone.  The 1 of 5 card sold on eBay for $300.

A 1 of 1 Maravich printing plate from Panini’s Crusade sold for $109.99.  The very difficult cards to find are the small number of NBA cards with a Maravich signature, like 2006-07 Chronology Cut Signatures #CSPM.  2009-10 Greats of the Game has Maravich autographs. Upper Deck made only three Immortals Cut Signatures Maravich cards as well as the Link to the Past Signatures and he shared those cards with LeBron James and Ricky Rubio and each one was numbered to 2.

2011-12 Gold Standard MaravichSomething that Maravich was not in his career was heavy, but that is what one of his newer cards certainly is, and it’s worth its weight in gold.  The 1 of 1 Solid Gold #17 Maravich card from 2011-12 Gold Standard sold recently for $1,375.  It might be a good time to buy and open a box of Gold Standard as the redemptions, like the Solid Gold cards, could expire very soon.  While in 2010-11 Gold Standard Basketball, the base set of cards actually had three versions of the Pete Maravich card.  There were Hawks, Jazz and Celtics Maravich cards, and Patrick Ewing and Dennis Rodman also had more than one type of base card as well in that set.

A recent card release cost more than $1,000 for one pack of cards, actually a little briefcase of ten cards, but there are Maravich cards from 2012-13 Panini Flawless Basketball that sell for around that price, and even more.  $965 was paid for the 1 of 1 base card parallel, with its diamond on the front of the card.  A piece of Maravich’s game-worn shirt can be more valuable than a diamond, as Flawless patch cards numbered to 2 have sold for over $1,000 and so have some of the patch cards numbered to 5.  The Flawless base cards numbered to 20, that also have a diamond, seem to have settled in value around the $200 to $300 range.

“The Pistol” scored 15,948 points in the NBA, at an average of 24.2.  Beckett lists 488 Maravich cards and other items, which averages out to around 11 every year since they started making them in 1970-71.  That is a lot of cards to collect and there are sure to be future Maravich cards made by Panini and other manufacturers as well.  Click here to see hundreds of them on eBay.

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