It is the kind of pull every collector dreams about — an ultra-rare card of the greatest athlete of his era. Pull that card from a retail pack at a big box store, and well, that’s even sweeter.
That’s what a young collector did 17 years ago. Or more specifically, that’s what his father did. Brett — who requested to keep his last name anonymous — and his father have been the proud owners of a 2002-03 Upper Deck NBA Logo Mania Michael Jordan autograph card. It’s a 1/1 card (the 1/1 is handwritten), with an NBA logo patch from a Jordan game-used jersey, with a bold Sharpie autograph of Jordan.
The card was consigned to Heritage Auctions’ Summer Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Auction and sold Saturday night for $204,000. Recently graded, it’s a windfall for the consignor who pulled the lucky card 17 years ago.
Brett, a “huge” Michael Jordan fan from Indiana, was 14 and living with his family in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2002 when he went to a Target store with his father to buy some retail packs.
“We’d get a couple of packs and open them together,” said Brett, now 31. “It was my dad’s pack, and it kind of overshadowed what I got.
“But it was beyond cool. The fact that it came from a retail pack makes it even more amazing.”
This particular pack cost $3.99 plus tax. “It was like a Willie Wonka Golden Ticket,” Brett said.
That’s how Heritage Auctions describes the card. Only nine Logo Mania cards were produced for the 2002-03 Upper Deck basketball set. There were three different 1/1 cards of Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Jay Williams.
It didn’t matter to Brett that this Jordan card showed His Airness wearing the uniform of the Washington Wizards. To Brett, who grew up a Pacers fan in basketball-mad Indiana but considered Jordan his favorite player during his time with the Bulls, this was the ultimate pull. It even topped his Vince Carter autograph card that had a ticket embedded into it.
“This was like the Holy Grail,” Brett said. “We looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s put it in a dark room and not touch it.’ So it stayed hidden in the closet.”
For years, Brett and his father wondered what kind of price the card might fetch.
“We’ve always tried to speculate as to how much it might be worth,” Brett said.
Now they know.
The card, tucked away for so many years, was consigned to Heritage Auctions and sent to Beckett for grading.
“We just got it graded last month,” Brett said. “It had been raw since Day One.”
The grades from Beckett are quite high — the card surface graded out at 9, but the centering, corners and edges all came in at 9.5. In the listing for the card, Heritage Auctions said the autograph was a 10.
Brett currently works as a consultant, traveling 50 weeks out of the year. He majored in business at Indiana University and naturally gravitated toward Hoosiers basketball.
“I was there late in the Kelvin Sampson era and early in the Tom Crean era,” Brett said. “After all those great Indiana teams, 6-25 (in Crean’s debut season of 2008-09) was a tough year.”
But Brett remembers the Jordan days, recalling the times he laced up his Air Jordan sneakers as a kid living in Bloomington, Indiana. Jordan and the Bulls were dominant, and Brett could not be happier.
“In my youth, those were the perfect times,” Brett said.
While he has mixed emotions about parting with the Jordan card, Brett said the payout from the Heritage Auctions sale will ease the sting.
“The next couple of days are probably going to be high blood-pressure days,” Brett said last week.
Now he can relax.