Note: This article represents the commonly held, Beckett derived definition of the 84-85 Star #101 Michael Jordan card. In February 2012 I held a roundtable discussion with three very knowledgeable collectors (including Steve Taft) looking at why we believe the 84-85 Star #101 card is Michael Jordan’s true rookie card.
The 1984-85 Star Co Michael Jordan card was the first trading card produced and licensed by the NBA. So why is this card considered his XRC (Extended Rookie Card) and not his rookie card given it was published 2 years earlier than the publically accepted Jordan rookie card?
First off this card was released in team bags as opposed to packs of random cards. Instead of buying a pack of cards without knowing what is inside, you would buy a Chicgao Bulls or a Boston Celtics etc sealed bag which contained a card for each player. These bags were only available through Star Co distributors.
The limited distribution of the cards also contributed to the status of the set. It is seen by some to have only ever held a minimal collecting audience and low print run numbers. This is seen to give the series less of an important standing in the hobby.
To top off the already lower standing of this set, Star ran an unauthorised reprinting of the cards with the original printing plates in the early 1990’s. This was not authorised by the NBA. As the reprints used the original printing plates it was almost impossible to differentiate between original and reprint Star cards.
Update (12 Aug 2010): This card was never reprinted by Star Co. Some unauthorized Star Co cards were made by the company but not the Jordan XRC. See my interview with Steve Taft for more information.
As a result reprinting most grading companies refused to grade Star cards due to the difficulty in determining reprints. It was not until recently that some major grading companies have begun to offer grading services for these cards by enlisting the help of experts in the field – most notably Steve Taft.
Now that graded cards are available, the 84-85 Jordan XRC is an excellent addition to your collection. Just beware that due to its scarcity it will cost you up to four times the price of the 86-87 Fleer RC!
In 1996 Topps (who bought the rights to Star) released an official refractor reprint (limited to 50) of this cards as part of the 96-97 Topps set. This card, at a considerably lower price, would make an excellent addition to your collection.