Michael Jordan is staying with Upper Deck. At Tuesday’s Industry Summit in Las Vegas, the company announced it had “entered a long-term renewal of our exclusive agreement with Michael Jordan”.
Under the new agreement, the company will continue to be the sole producer of authenticated collectibles, trading cards and memorabilia featuring Jordan’s image and autograph. Upper Deck says the new deal will also limit the number of Jordan autographs to “make Jordan’s highly coveted signature even more valuable for fans and collectors.”
Jordan first signed with Upper Deck in 1992, when the company was booming in the sports trading card business. It produced cards for Jordan as an active player (including his brief foray into baseball) that became among the hobby’s most valuable basketball cards, with low print run autographed cards and inserts from 1990s issues selling for thousands of dollars. That market remains stronger than ever a dozen years after Jordan’s retirement.
“With so many forgeries on the market, it has become increasingly important for fans to trust the source of the autograph they are investing in,” said Gabriel Garcia, Upper Deck Authenticated’s Brand Manager. “If the cost of an autographed item seems too good to be true, chances are that you aren’t getting the real deal.”
In recent years, Upper Deck has lost its NBA trading card license, but keeping Jordan in the fold has enabled them to continue releasing basketball card products with some success while using photos from his college days or portrait shots as the backdrop for coveted Jordan signatures. A heavy influx of Jordan autographs on college-based cards has brought prices for basic Jordan autographs down a bit.
How many more Upper Deck basketball products we’ll see in 2015 seems in some doubt, however. Earlier Tuesday, Upper Deck indicated that the upcoming 2014-15 SP Authentic Basketball product would be its last basketball issue “for a while”.