Twenty years ago, just those two words heralded the return of one Michael Jeffrey Jordan to the basketball world. After a season of playing baseball, Jordan realized his real present and future were on the basketball court.
For the card collecting hobby, which had suffered a terrible blow with the work stoppages in both baseball and hockey and had lost their most marketable basketball star, it once again looked as if there was truly hope. While the card collecting public never returned to the pre-1994 levels, at least many basketball collectors were happy because the most famous player had returned to their packs. We’ve mentioned how basketball cards were actually the most popular throughout the second half of the 1990’s and there is little doubt that was because Jordan had returned. After all, how many kids watched all those commercials and truly wanted to “be like Mike”?
And every week it appeared the card companies would find ways to add Jordan cards to their late season issues (he wore #45, remember?). While Upper Deck was able to keep issuing Jordan cards in their basketball sets because of their contract with Jordan (which was just recently renewed), some of the other cards which were added after MJ returned to basketball in 1994-95 included Topps Embossed #121, Finest #331 and Skybox Emotion #100 (you can see the most watched ’94-95 MJ cards on eBay below).
Today, we might have had some super high end product come out with an updated Jordan card in time for a late-season or even an off-season release. Just imagine a late-season issue such as National Treasures or Flawless that might have had a Jordan Returns card. Who knows what those cards would sell for if such a scenario had played out this year instead of 20 years ago. Interestingly, all those late issue cards are still $10 or more in the Beckett Online Price Guide.
With three more NBA titles on the horizon, Jordan’s legacy would be secured and until his retirement, all the card companies would continue to utilize MJ in their sets. It speaks to Jordan’s status as a hobby megastar that more than a decade after his final retirement, he’s still the most sought after star in the sport who still hasn’t truly been replaced and probably never will.