The 1986-87 Fleer basketball box break drew thousands of eavesdroppers Wednesday night, most of whom weren’t quite fearless enough to lay down $2,000 for what was probably a 1 in 12 shot to land the hobby’s most desirable basketball card. Those who did—and got lucky enough to find one in the pack they were assigned by random draw—probably got their money’s worth or more.
The box, part of a recent find of seven in upstate New York, is valued at $70,000-$75,000 because of the extreme likelihood of pulling not only multiple Michael Jordan rookie cards but high grade examples of some other basketball icons.
The first 18 packs opened in the live stream by VintageBreaks.com contained some nice cards. There were Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley rookie cards. A pair of Jordan stickers and of course, some minty commons.
But no Jordan.
Enough boxes of ’86-87 Fleer have been opened over the years to know that an untampered box should contain three (maybe four) MJ rookies and with none showing up in the first half of the box, nerves were a bit jangled. The box had been authenticated. The story behind its purchase earlier this year seemed legitimate. But where were the cards everyone came to see?
The answer came in pack 19.
A few minutes later, another well-centered Jordan emerged and then a third, sharp cornered but missing the good centering of the first two.
Leighton Sheldon of Vintage Breaks believes one of the three cards has a shot at being graded 10 by PSA and guessed the grades on the other two would be 9 and 9 OC (off-center). A PSA 10 Jordan would likely be valued at around $20,000 while 9s are currently selling for $4,000-$5,000 and 7s (the rough equivalent of a 9) are bringing $1200-$1500.
While some collectors bought multiple spots in the break, two of the three whose random spots resulted in a Jordan pull had purchased only a single entry. One of the collectors had already decided by late Wednesday night that he’d have his card sent directly to PSA and cross his fingers.
After securing the box at this summer’s National Sports Collectors Convention, Sheldon was hoping to open it live on the main stage at the show but couldn’t find enough takers at $2,000 per slot. Finally seeing it play out more than two months later, with coverage from ESPN.com no less, was “exhilarating and fun.”
He also learned something else.
“Patience is a virtue. Especially after the first 18 packs.”
You can watch the entire two-hour video here.
See 1986-87 Fleer Jordan rookie cards currently for sale and auction on eBay here.