For the first time since 1984 the title of NBA all-time scoring leader has changed and while the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t win Tuesday, the night belonged to LeBron James, who kickstarted the basketball card hobby as a teenager in 2003. Late in the third quarter, the now 38-year-old Ohio native passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for first place with 38,388 points.
Not that he wasn’t a hot commodity before, but James has been racking up sales in anticipation of the record. While some of the ultra-high end basketball cards have softened, overall demand has been strong.
Since October 15–just prior to the start of what was expected to be his record setting season–over 100,000 listings for LeBron cards have sold on eBay for over $10.5 million. The average price for one of his cards was about $97 in that time span.
The highest selling James card in the five days leading up to Tuesday night’s record was a 2003 Upper Deck SP Signatures “Famous Nicknames” card with his signature and “The Chosen 1” inscription. It sold for $20,000 on Friday.
A Topps Chrome Rookie Refractor graded BGS 9.5 and a 2008 Upper Deck dual autograph card of LeBron and Kobe Bryant are the two most watched auctions for James cards on the platform right now (full list here).
One of the 50 Gold Rookie Refractors from 2003-04 Chrome carried a high bid of $475,000 ahead of a Wednesday night close in Goldin’s Elite Auction.
As the record fell in Los Angeles, Fanatics brought out a new line of items to commemorate the league’s new all-time scoring king, including a collage with three small pieces of game-used basketballs to commemorate his stints with the Cavs, Heat and Lakers.
James has long held an autograph deal with Upper Deck, though, so there won’t be autographed items branded by Fanatics.
It’s unlikely any of the significant game-worn or game-used items will reach the hobby anytime soon, if at all.
James scored 38 points Tuesday night before leaving late with an injury. It’s a total he also scored in the Lakers’ Christmas Day loss to the Dallas Mavericks. That jersey is at NBA Auctions where it is expected to sell for a six-figure price when bidding ends Thursday night. A jersey he wore in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals sold for nearly $3.7 million at Sotheby’s late last month.