Michael Jordan’s “official” rookie card actually dates to his third year in the league, when the NBA finally partnered with a trading card company willing to sell pro basketball cards by the pack. Limited interest in the league’s cards had led to Topps exiting the market after the 1981-82 season. A little known group called Star Company swooped in and for three years became the official NBA trading card.
Little could the league or the company know that its first league-wide set that covered the 1984-85 season contain one of the most desirable pieces of hoops cardboard ever created. Even without that stamp of “rookie card,” the 1984-85 Star Company Michael Jordan represents his first NBA trading card inside a league-wide issue. Heritage Auctions is currently offering a NM/MT+ example in its latest catalog. The Beckett 8.5 copy carries a modest pre-sale estimate of $8,000 and up but another card in the same grade recently sold for over $15,000. A BGS 9 sold for over $25,000 in February, a price that would likely be topped by a wide margin now.
Issued during the winter and sold only to dealers who ordered them as bagged team sets, production of the Star Company cards is miniscule compared to the 1986-87 Fleer issue. It’s believed that fewer than 5,000 complete sets were made. The population of high-grade Star Company Jordan cards is very limited because of general handling and the red borders that tend to expose even the slightest wear. Jordan’s card appeared on the top of each sealed bag at the time of issue and some sealed bags do still exist.
The Star rookie is only one of its kind in the Heritage Auction, but there are five Fleer rookie cards including a PSA 10, two 9s and an autographed copy. In all, there are over a dozen high-grade or rare Jordan cards in the catalog.
Bidding is underway now and will continue through May 7.