He’s been on collectors’ radar since his high school days in Ohio but now that he’s brought a championship back to Cleveland, look for a new wave of interest in LeBron James autographs.
With the history-making comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, LeBron becomes one of just four players to win three championships and four MVP awards, joining Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. James’ performance was one for the ages. He led all players on both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in the series, something no player had ever done in the Finals. His effort stole some of the NBA’s superstar thunder back from Steph Curry.
Bringing a sports title to Cleveland for the first time since 1964 will make most fans forget about his acrimonious departure when fans burned his jerseys and booed him mercilessly on his return with the Miami Heat.
“All the emotions came out at the end of the game,” he said.
Despite not having a league license to produce NBA trading cards anymore, Upper Deck has hung onto its exclusive autograph deal with James and you can find UDA signed James items online for $800 and up, depending on the item. They may not last long considering the appetites of sports crazy Clevelanders and James’ world-wide fan base.
James did autograph sessions for cards during Upper Deck’s era as a licensee and continued to sign those showing him in his high school uniform after the NBA took its card contract to Panini. Those autographed cards–some also featuring Michael Jordan and others–often dominate the list of most popular auction items on eBay (you can see the current most watched LeBron rookie cards here).
Online sports memorabilia retailer Fanatics says when it comes to signed items, though, Curry and his Warriors have more popular than LeBron James and his teammates this year.
Company spokesman Taylor Lang told us they sold 300% more Curry autographed product than LeBron in the days leading up to Game 7. However that’s partly because they simply have more Curry items to sell thanks to an exclusive deal signed last year during the Warriors’ run to the 2015 championship. Fanatics and its web properties carry memorabilia from both players but its LeBron items come from UDA.
The average selling price of a LeBron James autograph was $1,240, while the average item carrying Curry sold for $955.
Lang says Fanatics has sold 1300% more autographed Klay Thompson items than it has of Kyrie Irving. Thompson, too, is a Fanatics exclusive and some of those sold items are dual-signed with Curry but with his clutch performance in the Finals, that will likely change.
Irving, one of the NBA’s top young stars who had a stellar performance in the Finals, would seem to be a long-term bargain with the average price currently at $270. Dual-signed James and Irving items will likely be the NBA’s most expensive for awhile.
Upper Deck has produced championship items for James in the past and indicated Sunday night it expects to get a fresh supply of LeBron autographs at some point during the off-season.
This time, he’ll be wearing a Cavs jersey in the photos.