It wasn’t a splash.
More like a ripple.
When Fleer announced plans to produce a nationally distributed basketball card set in 1986, it didn’t create massive shock waves in the hobby. Basketball was alive thanks to Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and, of course, Jordan. But its cards were still playing third fiddle to baseball and football.
When the entire hoops card market was determined to be vastly undervalued, the set began to shoot up the pricing ladder. Jordan’s arrival as a mega star pushed his card to the forefront. Technically, he’d been in the league for a couple of years already, but collectors weren’t buying the STAR company sets as his true rookie cards, even though they were produced in far less quantity.
The 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan is still holding strong as the most popular basketball card of all time. His Hall of Fame induction pushed the long-retired MJ back into the spotlight. Jordan is the latest player from the 1986-87 Fleer set to enter the Hall. It’s a set jammed with seven Hall of Famer rookie cards because if a player entered the NBA in any year from 1981-86, it was the first time his card appeared in a wax pack. In all, there are 13 Hall of Famers in the 132 card set.
A mint, graded Jordan rookie often sells for $1000 or more. No other player comes close, but Dominique Wilkins, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley do sell for premium prices too.
Perhaps the toughest high-grade card in the ’86-87 Fleer set, though, is #78 Johnny Moore. A PSA 10 Moore sold last year for $2650. There are usually one or two lesser grade examples on eBay.
While thousands of mint, ungraded ’86-87 Fleer basketball cards exist, they’re not always easy to find in grading company holders. The red borders easily show even the slightest wear and centering can be an issue. # 1, 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, 111, 121, and 132 were at the end of the printing sheet and were often cut in such a way that the borders were uneven.
It’s possible, though, to put together a perfect “10” graded set. In fact, Memory Lane Inc sold one at auction for over $34,000.
The set is small enough to complete in ungraded form without much trouble. Piecing together one of the best sets on the market is a much tougher battle, but its status as basketball’s modern era icon makes it worthwhile.
Click here to see 1986 Fleer basketball on eBay now.