There was a time when Vince Carter was the NBA. He was seemingly everywhere. After Michael Jordan had retired once more it was another electrifying dunker out of North Carolina that collectors wanted.
After winning the 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year award and following it up the next season by taking home the Slam Dunk title, “Air Canada” was the biggest name in basketball. At age 41, well into a new millennium, he’s still playing and Vince Carter rookie cards remain a favorite with collectors who recall when it all began.
The Carter File
In June of 1998, Toronto actually drafted Carter’s UNC teammate Antawn Jamison with its first pick but the Raptors and Warriors had worked out a deal. Toronto landed Carter and cash while the Warriors received Jamison, who was a very good player but didn’t sell tickets–or basketball cards– like Carter would.
Thanks to a labor dispute, the 1998-99 season didn’t start until winter was well underway. The season was shortened and basketball card production was also impacted. Interestingly, the season did mark an increase in numbered parallel cards inside NBA trading card sets.
During his big years in Toronto, Carter rookie cards often cost nearly twice as much as any other player from his draft class in the same card set. For the price of one Carter rookie card in 1998-99 Upper Deck Encore or 1998-99 Fleer Brilliants, a collector could get both the Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki rookie cards from the same set.
Autographs and Relics
Carter’s autographed rookie cards are very limited compared to the mountain of certified autos seen in today’s products. Among them are the 1998-99 SkyBox Autographics. The Blue parallel had a print run of 50 and is one of his most valuable first year cards. Another autographed card to consider is his 1998-99 Bowman’s Best Autographs (#A9) as well as its two Refractors parallels. He had three 1998-99 Stadium Club Co-Signers cards, which he shared with Jamison, Mike Bibby and Michael Olowokandi.
His 1998-99 Upper Deck Game Jerseys #GJ43 card was made when jersey cards were still a fresh idea. This one was harder to find than others in Upper Deck packs that year as the rookies in the set were reported to be inserted into one of every 2,500 packs. The NBA ‘Logoman” versions sell for a premium over the standard jersey card.
Among his most popular unsigned rookie cards are the 1998-99 Skybox Molten Metal Fusion, 1998-99 SP Authentic #95 which was numbered to 3,500, The 1998-99 Bowman’s Best Atomic Refractor, 1998-99 Topps Chrome #199 (Refractor versions in high grade sell well), 1998-99 Black Diamond #120, 1998-99 Finest #230, 1998-99 E-X Century #89 and 1998-99 Stadium Club #105. His Stadium Club #198 has a classic image of Carter throwing down a powerful dunk.
Want 1/1 cards? There is a 1998-99 Upper Deck Masterpiece Gold and a Press Pass Red Solo which sold for $3151 early in 2018
There were many more inserts and parallel cards made, too. 1998-99 E-X Century Dunk ‘N Go Nuts #12, 1998-99 Upper Deck Encore PowerDeck #3 and the three versions of his 1998-99 Flair Showcase Legacy Collection #25 are cards to acquire. There are only 25 examples of Carter’s 1998-99 SkyBox Premium Star Rubies (#234).
After leaving Toronto, Carter continued to score in bunches with the New Jersey Nets. The Orlando Magic then traded for him, bringing him back to the state where he grew up, but he wasn’t the missing piece they needed to win a championship. From there came a brief stint in Phoenix before Carter reinvented himself as a valuable role player for the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, hitting some clutch shots for the Mavs before continuing his career with Memphis and Sacramento.
Vince Carter rookie cards are much easier to find now than they were in 1999, and there are also several thousand newer cards to consider which chronicle not only his NBA travels but his college career and his Team USA appearances. Remember the famous dunk over 7-2 French center Frederic Weis? You can find it on Carter’s 2000-01 Topps Finest Moments #FMR11.
Below is a live list of all of the current ‘most watched’ Vince Carter basketball cards currently listed on eBay.