When it comes to the world of sports cards, basketball cards are some of the most sought-after and valuable. Over the past few years, basketball cards have exploded in value when compared to other sports cards.

The rise in young basketball talent grew the fanbase in recent years. Following this, the coronavirus pandemic meant many fans were unable to attend in-person sporting events, leaving them with more money and a desire to interact with the sport.

With many new fans and demand outgrowing supply, the price of basketball cards increased.

15 Most Valuable Basketball Cards 1990s (Round-up list)

The 1990s defined the game of basketball. Many players regarded as the greatest of all time played in this era and still capture the imagination of sports collectors today.

In this guide, I’ll take you through the most valuable 1990s basketball cards, looking at their values and what makes them so rare.

These are 16 of the most valuable cards currently valued or recently sold at auction.

Number Michael Jordan Basketball Card Grade Price
1 Kobe Bryant Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems #81 PSA 8.5 $2,000,000
2 Kobe Bryant Chrome Refractor #138 PSA 10 $1,795,800
3 1997 Michael Jordan Upper Deck Game Jersey (Autograph) #GJ13S PSA 7 $1,440,000
4 1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe #23 PSA Authentic $915,000
5 Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant #269 PSA 10 $500,000
6 Classic Draft Pick Shaquille O’Neal Auto RC PSA 10 $500,000
7 1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe #23 Beckett 8 $480,000
8 Topps Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson RC BGS 10 $250,000
9 Upper Deck Ovation Super Signatures Gold Michael Jordan #MJS Beckett 8 $250,000
10 Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant Rookie  #269 Beckett 10 $206,400
11 1998 Michael Jordan Skybox Moltern Metal #41 Beckett 9 $198,030
12 E-X2000 Credentials Kobe Bryant Rookie #30 Beckett 9 $170,400
13 Finest Kobe Bryant Refractor W/Coating #269 PSA 10 $162,360
14 Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 1 Kobe Bryant Rookie #31 Beckett 9.5 $136,530
15 Upper Deck Michael Jordan (Game Jersey Autographs) #GJ10A Beckett 9 $132,000
16 Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal #19 PSA 10 $100,000

1) 1997-98 Kobe Bryant Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems #81

1997-98 Kobe Bryant Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems #81
Source

(Sold February 2022 by Private Sale)

  • Price: $2,000,000
  • Grade: PSA 8.5
  • Card Number: #81

Coming in the number 1 spot for the most Valuable 1990s basketball cards is the Kobe Bryant Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems card.

Kobe tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in January 2020 leading to the value of his memorabilia skyrocketing. The card features Kobe in a yellow Lakers jersey passing the ball with one hand.

The card comes from the Metal Universe set, with cards featuring other popular players also highly sought after. The card comes from a 1997 set containing 123 cards. Only the first 10 cards in the set were done in green with the rest in red making this one in green foil very rare and valuable.

Only 10 of these cards exist, with this being the only one graded 8.5 by PSA. The card sold in February 2022 for $2,000,000 in a private sale making it the most expensive Kobe card sold.

2) 1996-97 Kobe Bryant Chrome Refractor Rookie #138

1996-97 Kobe Bryant Chrome Refractor Rookie #138
Source

(Sold March 2021 by Goldin Auctions)

  • Price: $1,725,000
  • Grade: Beckett 10
  • Card Number: #138

Coming in second place is the Kobe Bryant Chrome Refractor Rookie card.

The card is by Topps, considered to be one of the more exclusive card companies for collectors. The card features Kobe, again in a yellow Lakers jersey, looking to shoot the ball whilst being guarded.

This Kobe Rookie card produced in 1996-1997 is considered extremely rare. The card is graded as a Beckett 10, with only one other card known to exist in this quality.

Being a pristine example of this card, it sold at auction in March 2021 for $1,752,000.

3) 1997 Michael Jordan Upper Deck Game Jersey (Autograph)

1997 Michael Jordan Upper Deck Game Jersey (Autograph)

(Sold February 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $1,440,000
  • Grade: PSA 7
  • Card Number: #GJ13S

In number 3 is the 1997 Michael Jordan Upper Deck Game Jersey Autographed card, currently the most valuable MJ card sold to date.

It features Jordan dribbling the ball during a 1992 NBA All-star game, played in Orlando, Florida in front of 14,000 spectators. The game is regarded as iconic as it was the last game played by both Hall of Famer James Worthy and fellow Laker Magic Johnson.

The front of the card features an authentic jersey patch from the 1992 All-star game, with Upper Deck starting the basketball Game Jersey cards around the same time this card was produced.

The card is considered very rare with only 23 being produced. The odds of pulling this card in a pack are thought to be around 1/55,000.

The card is personally autographed by Jordan in a thin blue pen with the serial number 8/23 also handwritten. The card is graded as a PSA 7 with the autograph graded as an 8.

The card sold at auction in February 2021 for $1,440,000.

Also Read: 15 Most Valuable Michael Jordan Cards (1997 Psa 7 Was Sold For Over $1.4 Million In February 2021)

4) 1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe

1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe
Source

(Sold December 2020 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $915,000
  • Grade: PSA Authentic
  • Card Number: #23

This 1997 Michael Jordan precious metal games card is another card from the highly sought-after Metal Universe collection. The card features Jordan soaring into the air with an outstretched arm, a position that became a trademark of Jordan’s playing style.

The card was sold following the release of the 10-part Netflix special ‘The Last Dance’. The documentary followed Jordan’s playing career, reminding people of the brilliance of MJ at a time when basketball was canceled and people needed ways to keep engaged with the sport.

The card is one of the first from the metal gems collection, issued alongside the set’s base cards. Out of 100 produced, only 10 were made with green foil with the other 90 in red.

Of the 10 cards, only 6 have been given to PSA for grading. This card is 1 of only 2 graded as authentic, making it very rare and valuable.

The card sold at auction in December 2020 for $915,000.

5) 1996 Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant #269

1996 Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant #269
Source

(Listed on eBay 2022)

  • Price: $500,000
  • Grade: PSA 10
  • Card Number: #269

This Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Byrant card is very aesthetically appealing, framed in gold edges. The card features the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant in a yellow Lakers jersey dunking the ball from behind his back.

Less than 250 of these cards exist. The card produced by Topps is graded as a PSA 10, meaning it is in pristine condition, making it highly collectible.

The card is currently listed on eBay for $500,000, with a similar example selling at a Goldin auction for $206,400.

6) 1992 Classic Draft Pick Shaquille O’Neal Auto RC

1992 Classic Draft Pick Shaquille O’Neal Auto RC
Source

(Listed on eBay 2022)

  • Price: $500,000
  • Grade: PSA 10
  • Card Number: #32

Regarded as one of the greatest basketball players and centers of all time, Shaquille O’Neal received 4 NBA Championship titles and multiple MVP awards.

This makes Big Shaq cards very valuable. This 1992 Classic Draft Pick Shaquille O’Neal Auto RC is regarded as one of the most valuable examples.

The card features Shaq as a rookie in an LSU jersey hanging from the rim with both legs in the air after a trademark dunk. Being a rookie card with a limited number produced makes it more valuable.

The bottom of the card is personally autographed by Shaq in white pen, with the number #32 handwritten next to it.

The card is graded as a PSA 10 and numbered 33/2500. It’s currently listed on eBay for $500,000.

7) 1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe

1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe
Source

(Sold February 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $480,000
  • Grade: NM + MT + 8
  • Card Number: #23

This 1997 Michael Jordan Precious Metal Gems card is another example from the Metal Universe brand. The card features MJ soaring into the air with his arm outstretched.

This card is produced with a red foil background, making it not as rare as the green Metal gems card in the number 4 spot. Only 100 of these cards were produced, with 90 of them having a red foil background.

With only 31 of these cards presented to Beckett for grading, this makes it highly desirable. The card is graded by Beckett as 8. The card sold at auction in February 2021 for $480,000.

8) 1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson Rookie

1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson Rookie
Source

(Listed on eBay 2022)

  • Price: $250,000
  • Grade: BGS 10
  • Card Number: #171

Although Allen Iverson was one of the smallest players in the league, he became well known for his explosive playing style. Whilst he didn’t win any NBA championships, he was an 11-time NBA All-star and won multiple MVP awards.

This 1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson card is a rare example of the player known as ‘the Answer’. The card was released in a defining year for Iverson when he made his debut and won rookie of the year.

The card features Iverson in a red Sixers jersey passionately celebrating with his Sixers teammates.

The card is graded by Beckett as 10 Pristine making it very rare and collectible. It’s currently listed on eBay for $250,000.

9) 1999 Upper Deck Ovation Super Signatures Gold Michael Jordan #MJS

1999 Upper Deck Ovation Super Signatures Gold Michael Jordan #MJS
Source

          (Listed on eBay 2022)

  • Price: $250,000
  • Grade: Beckett 8
  • Card Number: #MJS

The Super Signatures Gold Michael Jordan card is another example from the Upper Deck collection.

The ascetically pleasing card design features two pictures of Jordan. MJ is shown stretching to execute a one-handed dunk in front of a superimposed picture of his head where he is looking into the distance. The card is finished with a gold trim around the edges.

The card is personally autographed and hand-numbered 12/23, making it a great addition to any collection. It is graded as a Beckett 8 with the autograph graded as a 10.

The card is currently listed on eBay for $250,000.

10) Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant Rookie #269

Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant Rookie #269
Source

(Sold 2021 by Goldin Auctions)

  • Price: $206,400
  • Grade: Beckett 10
  • Card Number: #269

This rookie Kobe Bryant card is another example of the Finest Gold Refractor card featured in the number 5 spot. It features Kobe in a yellow Lakers Jersey dunking the ball from behind his back framed in gold trim.

The odds of pulling one of these cards are thought to be 1/5000 packs, making them extremely rare.

The card is graded as a Beckett 10, with only the card surface receiving a 9.5. The card was sold at a Goldin auction for $206,400.

11) 1998 Michael Jordan Skybox Molten Metal

1998 Michael Jordan Skybox Molten Metal
Source

(Sold March 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $198,030
  • Grade: Beckett 9
  • Card Number: #41

This 1998 Michael Jordan Skybox Molten Metal card truly is unique and special. It features MJ in pinpoint-sized, die cuts making a shadow illustration on half of the card.

The gold-colored card also shows Michael in a red Chicago Bulls jersey performing a jump shot. The limited edition card has the serial number 19/40 stamped through the material.

The card was graded as a Beckett 9 and sold at a Goldin auction in March 2021 for $198,030.

12) 1996-1997 E-X2000 Credentials Kobe Bryant Rookie #30

1996-1997 E-X2000 Credentials Kobe Bryant Rookie #30
Source

(Sold by Goldin Auctions)

  • Price: $170,400
  • Grade: Beckett 9
  • Card Number:  #30

This 1996-96 E-X2000 Credentials Kobe Bryant Rookie card features Kobe in a yellow Lakers jersey with the ball looking to turn quickly. The card has ‘Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers’ printed at the bottom in gold.

The credentials set was made by the company Panini, known as the biggest competition for the Topps trading card brand. This Kobe rookie is a limited-edition example, numbered 442/449 cards.

It’s graded as a 9 by Beckett and was sold by Goldin Auctions for $170,400.

13) 1996 Finest Kobe Bryant Refractor W/Coating #269

1996-Finest-Kobe-Bryant-Refractor-W-Coating-#269
Source

(Sold by Goldin Auctions)

  • Price: $162,360
  • Grade: PSA 10
  • Card Number: #269

Produced in 1999 and known as the Finest Kobe Bryant Refractor card, it features Kobe dunking the ball behind his head in his yellow Lakers jersey.

The card was released during his 1997 season and is 1 of only 126 examples known to exist. The card is complete with its original protective coating, not usually seen on most cards.

The card is in mint condition, graded as a 10 by the PSA. This means it has sharp corners, full original gloss, and a perfectly centered card image.

This card example was sold at a Goldin Auction for $162,360.

14) Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 1 Kobe Bryant Rookie #31

Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 1 Kobe Bryant Rookie #31
Source

(Sold March 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $136,530
  • Grade: Beckett 9.5
  • Card Number: #31

This Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 1 Kobe Bryant is an excellent Rookie card. It features a bold Kobe dribbling the ball in a Lakers jersey with the background featuring his face looking on. The card also has ‘Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers Guard’ printed in blue on the bottom.

Founded in 1993, Flair produced high-end trading cards before changing direction in 2006.

The Flair showcase legacy collection is from the 1996-97 season. In that year, 90 cards were put into the base sets and separated into Rows. Row 2 is the base set and more common while Row 1 and 0 are much rarer.

This Row 1 card is graded by Beckett as a 9.5 and was sold at a Goldin auction for $136,530.

15) 1999 Upper Deck Michael Jordan (Game Jersey Autographs)

1999 Upper Deck Michael Jordan (Game Jersey Autographs)
Source

(Sold November 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $132,000
  • Grade: Beckett 9
  • Card Number:  #GJ10A

Produced in 1999, the Upper Deck Michael Jordan Game Jersey Autograph card was issued after MJ finished with the Chicago Bulls. The card is a redemption card, only available by mail

It features MJ reaching to dunk the ball on the left with a red Chicago Bulls game jersey patch on the right side. MJ has signed the card in blue ink and handwritten the serial number 10/23.

The card is graded as a Beckett 9 and Autograph 10. It sold at a Heritage Auction in November 2021 for $132,000.

16) 1990 Kentucky Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal #19

1990 Kentucky Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal #19
Source

(Listed on eBay)

  • Price: $100,000
  • Grade: PSA 10
  • Card Number:  #19

Rounding out the most valuable 1990s basketball cards is another Big Shaq card example. The Kentucky Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal Non-Perforated card features Shaq in an LSU jersey, in the center position during a game.

This card is special, being the first Shaquille O’Neal trading card produced. The card was released in 1990, two years before his rookie cards.

The pre-rookie card is 1 of only 1200 and is graded by the PSA as a 10, making it highly desirable and rare.

This is currently listed on eBay for $100,000.

Why are 1990s Basketball Cards so Expensive?

The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant who unfortunately recently passed away, made his debut. Michael Jordan, now retired, helped the Chicago Bulls win their 6th NBA championship with his final shot as a bull.

With basketball cards featuring historical players still capturing the imagination of basketball fans worldwide, it stands to reason that basketball cards of the 1990s are some of the rarest and most valuable additions to any collection.

Some of the most valuable cards produced are limited editions featuring historical players in their rookie years.

1990s Basketball Card Buying Guide

What to look out for

When it comes to buying 1990’s basketball cards or searching the attic to see if you have any hidden treasures, there are some things you need to look for when trying to determine what 90s basketball cards are worth money.

  1. Graded Cards

One of the most important factors when determining what a card is worth is its grading.

First, look to see if the card is graded by Beckett Grading system (BGS) or Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). These two are the most well-known and trusted grading companies.

If your card is graded highly by one of these companies, it’s likely to be worth a decent amount of money. If your card is Ungraded, consider grading it if it looks to be in good condition and features a well-known athlete.

  1. Rookie Cards

Rookie cards are always regarded as more valuable, especially if they feature well-known athletes.

Rookie cards are produced when a player is just starting out and therefore made in limited quantities. As the player finishes their rookie years and starts becoming famous, more cards are produced making them more common.

With Rookie cards produced in limited quantities, this makes them much rarer and more valuable.

  1. The Best Players

With famous players renowned for their playing skills still capturing the imagination of collectors, it stands to reason that the best players are worth more money.

If a popular card produced in limited quantities is in high demand with collectors, it makes the card more valuable.

Some of the best players in the 1990s include:

(This is by no means a complete list of the best players from the 90s)

Where to buy and sell 1990’s Basketball Cards

There are many online shops that specialize in buying and selling 1990s basketball cards. Here is a selection of the most popular sites:

  • Auction (Popular high-end auction sites such as Heritage Auctions and Goldin Auctions are the 2 main auction sites for extremely valuable 1990’s cards.
  • eBay (A great option for buying and selling 1990s basketball cards. The site gives you access to a huge range of customers and allows you to set your own prices)
  • Dean’s Cards (Founded in 2002, Deans Cards specializes in buying and selling basketball cards from the 1990s)
  • COMC (Another popular site for buying and selling 1990s cards)

Conclusion – Most Valuable 1990’s Basketball Cards

Basketball cards from the 1990s are some of the rarest and highly sought-after sports cards around today. The 1990s saw a host of famous players make their debuts and play in their rookie years making the cards very valuable to collectors.

The 1997-98 Kobe Bryant Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Card #81 was sold recently in a private sale for $2,000,000, making it the most valuable 1990s basketball card to date.

Also Read: 12 Most Valuable LeBron James Rookie Cards (2003-04 Exquisite Collection Rookie Parallel #78 Sold for $5,200,000)

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