In the third of our series that began with the 1970s and 1980s, we run down the rookie cards of the Finals MVPs during the decade of the 1990s. It’s a short list thanks to one guy, but it starts with a player on the team Michael Jordan had to figure out a way to beat in order to kick-start the Chicago Bulls’ decade of dominance.
Click the links to each to see them on eBay.
Having dispatched of the rest of the league, including the Bulls, it was a matchup against Portland in the Finals as Chuck Daly’s club tried to pull off back-to-back titles. Vinnie Johnson hit key shots and Joe Dumars played well but Thomas was simply the baddest of the Bad Boys in 1990. Thomas averaged 20.5 points, 8.2 assists. 5.5 rebounds and 2 steals in the playoffs that season.
His first card is in the inaugural Star Company set and a BGS 9 example will cost upwards of $200. If you opt for the more traditional Fleer rookie from 1986, you can find a very nice one for around $25 with graded examples running higher.
It seems almost impossible to fathom now. Six championships in ten years. Each time, the world’s greatest player was up to the challenge of leading his team to a title.
In 1991 the Bulls were finally able to get past the Pistons in the playoffs. When the Bulls got to the Finals they found the Lakers waiting, but this was not the 1980s Lakers. The Bulls won the title in five games, with Jordan averaging 31.1 points.
The next year it was Jordan versus Drexler, just before they would play together on the Dream Team. Jordan found an outside shot, Portland never found their composure, and the Bulls won in six games.
The 1993 NBA Finals pitted Phoenix against Chicago and again, it was a breeze for the Bulls.
After his dalliance with baseball, Jordan returned to the NBA. Hersey Hawkins and Seattle couldn’t stop Jordan in 1996. The next two years saw the Bulls fend off the Stockton and Malone-led Utah Jazz.
MJ’s debut card in the 1984-85 Star Company set is far more rare than the Fleer and seems to be gaining some respect. Expect to pay over $6,000 for a graded 9 Star card and $600 and up for a nice Fleer with “10s” bringing five figures.
With Jordan no longer a factor, Patrick Ewing and the Knicks faced the Houston Rockets and Hakeem in the Finals, a great matchup that saw Olajuwon average 27 points per game and Ewing 19. It took Houston seven games to win the 1994 title.
The next year, Clyde Drexler arrived in Houston and the Rockets earned the sweep. Shaq was great for Orlando with 28 points a game but Hakeem averaged nearly 33 as the Rockets won back-to-back crowns.
The Star card sells for $175 and up in a BGS 8 or better holder while the Fleer starts at $50 for graded, NM/MT examples.
Phil Jackson puts an asterisk next to the Spurs’ win in the shortened season, but an exclamation point is needed for Duncan’s stats in the finals of 27.4 points, 14 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. The Spurs dispatched the Knicks in five games.
By the time Duncan arrived on the scene, there were multiple basketball card sets in the marketplace and you have your pick among numerous issues but it’s hard to go wrong with the Chrome. Even PSA 10s often sell for under $100 with 9s barely over $20 if you’re patient.