After a lengthy hiatus dating back to the 1990s, PSA says it plans to resume grading Star Company basketball cards.
It’s important news for those who collect Michael Jordan cards. Jordan’s first NBA licensed trading cards arrived during his rookie season when Star was the league’s sole partner. He’s #101 in the 1984-85 Star set.
Issued two years prior to the 1986-87 Fleer issue, the Star Jordan “XRC” is considered by many to be his “true” rookie card, although they were only available through hobby dealers and direct mail order as part of a Chicago Bulls team set.
Issues over a small portion of Star’s basketball cards being reprinted in the 1990s led PSA to stop grading them entirely. With those issues clarified through research and collectors asking for the company to reconsider, PSA will soon be back in the game. PSA’s CEO, Nat Turner, is a noted basketball card collector who encouraged the resumption of grading Star’s offerings.
For years, Beckett Grading was the lone major authentication and grading firm that tackled Star’s basketball sets, which ran from 1983-84 to 1985-86, before the league and its players handed the license to Fleer. Global Authentication (GAI) also graded cards and team bags during its tenure.
At this point, PSA says it will only grade card’s from Star’s 1984-85 series–a set that includes not only Jordan but other NBA icons who made their card debuts that season including Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon. Expanding into other issues is a possibility, however.
“It’s something hobbyists have been asking us for years,” said Brendan Bigelow, a PSA Product Manager and 1990s basketball expert. “We’ll be scrutinizing them very closely. Right now we only have a handful of graders who are trained and authorized to grade them. We’ve come up with a lot of measures to ensure that any Star Company cards that get submitted to us go to those graders. So there are going to be layers of protection to make sure that everything is authentic and gradeable.”
Bigelow says PSA is using cards taken from sealed team bags as prototypes for how the cards will be graded and that PSA will consider grading sealed team bags at some point.
PSA will accept submissions of Star cards at the upcoming National Sports Collectors Convention, but will ship them back to the company’s Southern California offices for authentication and grading.