He was an athletic teenage project who would go on to become one of the top players of his era. Tracy McGrady had the high-flying, high-scoring game that made him into a fast favorite with card collectors. McGrady eventually became a seven-time All-Star who won two NBA scoring titles. He’s been retired for nearly four years but those who look back at his career have fond memories of a player Kobe Bryant once called the toughest he’d ever played against.
High-End McGrady Rookie Cards
When McGrady put his name in the 1997 NBA Draft right after high school, Tim Duncan was the clear number one pick. McGrady was taken ninth by the young Toronto Raptors franchise but he would later be seen as the second best player in the draft.
Those after McGrady rookie cards will be getting him in purple– with a big dinosaur on his jersey. It was a crowded marketplace during the 1997-98 season with a dizzying number of companies and brands producing cards. The low serial-numbered inserts that have become very popular and very valuable were in their hoops heyday and they’re among T-Mac’s most sought after cards.
The red and green parallel versions of McGrady’s 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems cards (#42) are highly sought after. The first ten cards in the iconic insert set are green (emerald) while the other 90 are red. His green PMG numbered 1 of 100 not only represents his first year in the NBA, it’s in one of the most popular insert sets ever created and carries a serial number that matches his jersey number. It’s currently listed on eBay with a price of $39,999. Another one of those ten green versions, graded 8.5 by Beckett is up for auction now as is an ungraded red example.
McGrady also appears as card #36 in the 1997-98 Metal Universe Championship Precious Metal Gems set, with a print run of only 50, the same amount as his 1997-98 SkyBox Premium Star Rubies. Both are also on the short list of McGrady’s best basketball cards, one which would also have to include the 1997 Skybox Z-Force Super Rave, numbered to 50. For a more standard, traditional card, collectors can look to the 1997-98 Topps Chrome Refractor.
Autographed inserts weren’t common back in 1997 and McGrady’s Skybox Autographics Century Marks card, numbered to 100, is extremely popular when offered and perhaps even a little undervalued.
Lower Cost Options
For those with a more modest budget, there are plenty of McGrady base rookie cards that can be had for very little. Collectors can load up with 1997-98 EX2001, Ultra, Bowman’s Best, Hoops, Topps, SP Authentic, Finest, Stadium Club and others.
His Fleer rookie may be the cheapest of them all and the image of a young McGrady dunking is a must-have. NBA fans may also be confused by the card, as the player McGrady is dunking over is Minnesota center Stojko Vrankovic who wasn’t on that team when McGrady entered the league, so one might guess a computer-enhanced picture was used.
Current Era and Beyond
McGrady enjoyed a lengthy career, retiring after an NBA Finals appearance with San Antonio in 2013 and even dabbling in baseball for a time. He continues to appear in various products created by Panini, many with autographs. In fact, more than 5,000 different McGrady cards have been issued and there will be more to come. You can see an up-to-the-minute list of the current ‘most watched’ Tracy McGrady cards on eBay via the list below.