This isn’t my first post on the top 10 Michael Jordan cards of all time.
I originally titled an article that back in 2009 when I first returned to collecting Jordans. In hindsight it was a misnomer however - that article has been renamed my top ten sentimental favourite Michael Jordan cards as it more so reflected on my favourite styles of collecting in the 90’s.
TL;DR - what are the top 10 Michael Jordan cards of all time?
My top ten Michael Jordan cards of all time including buyback auto and retro release versions.
This article will represent what I think are the best Michael Jordan cards without constraint. It will also be the first in a series of top 10 Michael Jordan cards from a range of collectors - be sure to check back regularly or follow on Facebook to see more.
Matt Cassidy’s Top 10 Michael Jordan Cards of All Time
I’ve chosen cards that have a special place commemorating Jordan’s career as well as those commemorating key aspects of the history and evolution of trading cards.
You’ll see a lot of firsts and cards which have subsequently gained serious collector community appreciation. You’ll also primarily see cards from the 80’s and 90’s as Jordan’s Bulls playing era (and few years thereafter) is my personal favourite.
This won’t be a list of the top 10 most valuable Michael Jordan cards - though that would certainly make for a good read so I’ll save a post on that for another time.
Finally, as I always add when publishing a ranking list, these are my personal opinions - what I think are the best Michael Jordan cards - and I’m very keen to hear what other collectors would rank as their bests in the comments.
All discussions of recent sales are from early 2020.
I always like to include a list of notable mentions. There are just too many quality Jordans to leave without mentioning and the quality of this list will give you an idea of the quality to come!
Notable mention: 1985 Michael Jordan Prism Jewel Sticker
Stickers tend to become very rare due to the fact that their intended use is to be removed from their backing and stuck to something - in essence destroyed as a collectible.
The 1985 Prism Jewel Sticker is a very rare sticker which was available through vending machines. Presumably most were destroyed by being used and so what remains is an ultra rare and valuable collectible.
It is a card with excellent eye appeal and one of Jordan’s first appearances. Ahead of its time with dual images of Jordan, there is also the large and small block variations.
Notable mention: 1994-95 Michael Jordan Collector’s Choice Baseball Gold Signature
The 1994-95 Collector’s Choice Baseball Gold Signature makes the notable mentions list due to both it’s eye appeal and quirkiness.
While part of Collector’s Choice’s premier basketball set in 1994 the #23 card features Michael Jordan playing baseball. A perfect example of history on a card. Perhaps Upper Deck were so confident at the time they would be seeing Jordan back in their basketball series again they never bothered to remove him 🙂.
The Gold Signature series is a stunning parallel featuring heavy gold toned foil along with a gold stamp facsimile autograph (they don’t scan well and should be seen in person to be truly enjoyed).
Notable mention: 1996-97 Michael Jordan Flair Hot Shots
The Flair Hot Shots was part of an era of trading cards which embraced seriously intricate die-cut cards.
This card features no less than 14 die-cut points of a flame! Highly graded copies of the Hot Shots accordingly attract a high premium. There are few other Jordan cards that features such intricate die-cut points.
Notable mention: 1994-95 Michael Jordan N-Tense
In 1994 we started to get an introduction to what was to come in the late 90’s - bold, bright, embossed inserts that were stunning in hand.
The Michael Jordan N-Tense is perhaps one of the first to tick all these boxes. It feature’s a nicely embossed surface with a highly reflective, bold gold coating. The front copy has a very nice soap colour treatment that is beautiful in hand.
The N-Tense is also one of a handful of cards which feature Jordan wearing the #45 jersey which he donned upon his initial return to the NBA.
This card was also featured as part of the 13-14 Fleer Retro set - so you can line up Jordan wearing Bulls #45 and Jordan wearing North Carolina #23.
Notable mention: 1995-96 Michael Jordan Beam Team
Talk about intricate die cutting - the 95-96 Michael Jordan Beam Team actually features Jordan’s face carefully etched out of the surface! The ‘Beam Team’ copy is also die-cut out.
The 95-96 Beam Team set continues on Topps Stadium Club’s Beam Team inserts of 92-93 and 93-94. Like both of these previous sets, there is a Member’s Only version of the 95-96 Beam Team available. They look amazing lined up together.
Notable mention: 1998-99 Michael Jordan Playmaker’s Theatre
The Jordan Playmaker’s Theatre celebrates Jordan’s leadership on the court. I quite like the quote on the back: “You’ve seen the footage for 13 years and it still hasn’t gotten boring.”
This is the first serial numbered card to appear in this list. It was limited to 1000 copies and an incredibly hard pull back in the late 90’s. It features an elegant design and embossed surface.
There are copies which are not stamped with a serial and have no embossing. Supposedly these were purchased as unused complete sheets when Fleer sold off its assets.
Additionally there are copies which are embossed but have no serial number stamp. Likewise to the above, these were bought in the Fleer asset sale and were intended as backups to damaged cards.
If you’re after the true pack pulled copy be wary to check for embossing and serial numbers on online listings.
Recent sales include a BGS 9.5 for $7400.
Notable mention: 1997-98 Michael Jordan Jambalaya
This is the original Michael Jordan Jambalaya produced by E-X2001 in 1997 - it was a very tough pull and commands serious interest these days.
The card features an elegant rounded die-cut and highly coloured front with a deep etched photo of Jordan flying to the rim in his signature style. The card celebrates Jordan’s dunking prowess making mention of his dunk over Mutombo and free-throw line Slam Dunk Contest winning dunk on the back.
Absolutely stunning in hand, this is a card (along with it’s 2006-07 counterpart) for high end Jordan memorabilia collectors.
There is also the retro version which will be more available.
Recent sales include a BGS 9.5 for almost $20,000.
- Buy any Michael Jordan Jambalaya
- Buy 1997-98 Michael Jordan Jambalaya
- Buy 2006-07 Michael Jordan Jambalaya
- Buy 2011-12 Michael Jordan Jambalaya
Notable mention: 1998-99 Michael Jordan Game Jersey
The 1998-99 Upper Deck Michael Jordan Game Jersey card was the first trading card to feature a piece of game used Jordan Bulls jersey. Jordan wore this jersey during a game in the 90’s and you can own a piece of it!
It features a similar design to the UD Game Jersey of the previous year with the whole look and feel of the card geared towards celebrating the piece of history it holds.
There is also an autographed version of the card serial numbered to 23.
Notable mention: 1997-98 Michael Jordan Ultra Stars Gold
A list like this wouldn’t be complete without a look at and appreciation for some high-end Michael Jordan Parallel cards - here is our first.
The Jordan Ultra Stars Gold sums up the feel of the late 90’s beautifully - super rare, bold, brightly coloured stunning inserts.
The card is a parallel of the Ultra Stars #1 - a beautiful card in its own right - and features the same light reflective coating that can’t be replicated through photos or scans to its fullest. The gold parallel adds a beautiful gold foil coating and rarity.
This card is so rare that none have sold recently that I’m aware of. The last I know of was a BGS 9.5 sold for $8,700 in late 2018. Given a raw copy of the non-gold parallel sold recently for almost $1,300 I think that gold parallel buyer made a very good investment.
Notable mention: 1997-98 Michael Jordan Embossed Die-Cut Refractor Gold Masters
Sticking with 97-98 let’s look at the parallel of a parallel which also features a ‘Atomic Refractor’ surface.
This card is amazing in hand. It is a parallel of the Die-Cut Embossed Gold Masters Jordan card from the 1997-98 Topps Finest set which is itself a parallel of the Gold Masters base Jordan card. Confused?
Like the Ultra Stars Gold it features everything about the late 90’s throwing in serial numbering and an nice die-cut to boot. This card has a nice die-cut, stunning embossing, an atomic refractor coated surface and is serial numbered to 74.
These cards are so rare I’m not aware of any sales in the last few years. As a guide however a BGS 9 non-embossed, non-die-cut, serialled to 289 refractor recently sold for $1075 which seems undervalued to me.
Notable mention: 2002-03 Michael Jordan Beam Team
Featuring Jordan playing in the Wizards is something that we should not leave out. And the 02-03 Michael Jordan Beam Team card is beautiful.
Topps Stadium Club reinvigorated the Beam Team insert series of the early 90’s in this early 2000’s set.
The card features Jordan playing in his part-owned team the Washington Wizards when he left retirement for the second time. It is limited to 500 copies and has an elegant design coupled with a beautiful light reflective coating.
Notable mention: 1992-93 Michael Jordan Team Leader
Back in 1992 Fleer was one of the first companies to start producing randomly inserted inserts as chase cards in packs. The 92-93 Michael Jordan Team Leader was one of these sets.
Available only through rack packs, the Team Leader celebrates Jordan’s leadership qualities as he led the Bulls to their first three-peat. It features a nice, restrained design leaning heavily on its use of photography.
From an era of massive production, this card is readily available for sale online making it a nice, easy addition to your collection. There is also a 1/1 buyback auto and retro version.
Notable mention: 1997-98 Michael Jordan Essential Credentials Now
This card represents the earliest extreme limited print runs of serially numbered cards. Limited to only 9 copies most collectors will never even see one in person.
The Essential Credentials Now is a parallel of the Essential Credentials Base card along with the Essential Credentials Future which were limited to 72 copies. The Essential Credentials Now cards are the only acetate stock cards to feature on this list.
In an interesting quirk, the ‘Now’ cards were limited to the number of the card within the set so Jordan being card number 9 was limited to 9 copies. This means the Grant Hill ‘Now’ is a 1/1.
In reverse the ‘Future’ cards were limited to 80 minus the card number making Jordan 72. This means the Ron Mercer ‘Future’ is a 1/1.
The ‘Now’ parallel features a green overlay on top of the design of the ‘Future’ set.
The most recent sale I know of was in 2016 for almost $52,000. There are also retro versions available which are considerably more available.
Notable mention: 1998-99 Michael Jordan takeit2.net
The play on words used by this card is a celebration of the explosion of the internet. In 1998 it was becoming a mainstream advancement of technology and Flair’s production of this set played on that nicely.
The takeit2.net cards feature a circuit board background showing a basketball styled overlay when viewed at an angle. They were printed on Flair’s standard thicker stock and limited to 1000 copies.
Each player got an email address on the takeit2.net domain which further played on the burgeoning interest in the internet and electronic mail.
As an aside - I own the domain takeit2.net and at some point will build a website to showcase the cards.
Recent sales include a BGS 9 for $2248.
Notable mention: 1997-98 Michael Jordan Sign of the Times
I do really wish I could find room in the top 10 Jordan cards of all time for the 97-98 Jordan Sign of the Times. It is an amazing card.
Part of the inaugural Sign of the Times inserts that SP produced for a number of years, this Michael Jordan autograph card is certainly one of my favourites.
The play on words of the title ‘Sign of the Times’ coupled with the elegant design and standout autograph are all reasons to love this card. However, the fact that it was signed in 1997 (or perhaps 1998) truly make this card iconic.
The card was a redemption so the autographs themselves were not distributed in packs - you mailed in a pack pulled redemption card and received the auto card direct from Upper Deck.
I quite like the design, although some players had trouble fitting their signature into the space provided (have a look at Mookie Blaylock’s attempts). If you prefer a larger autograph, there is always the 1998-99 Michael Jordan Sign of the Times.
I’m not aware of any sales for the autograph card itself in recent times. Sign of the Times cards from the following year (98-99) are considerably more abundant and a PSA 9 recently sold for over $20,000.
Top 10 Michael Jordan Cards of All Time
Now that we’ve been through the notable mentions that I couldn’t leave without showing appreciation for, its time for the proper list of my top ten Michael Jordan cards of all time.
As I mentioned earlier, this won’t be a list of the most valuable Jordan cards of all time - it will feature cards that I think have a special place in the Michael Jordan memorabilia realm.
#10 1993-94 Michael Jordan Famous Nicknames
Michael ‘Air’ Jordan - this card says it all! This card will bring back memories for anyone alive during the Jordan fever hype of the 90’s. Memories of ‘Air’ Jordan sneakers and Gatorade’s ‘If I could be like Mike’ jingle will flood back thinking about the time this card was released.
It wasn’t Fleer Ultra’s flagship insert of 1993-94 (that was the Scoring Kings and Power in the Key) and subsequently didn’t feature as high quality surface treatment (like full surface foil). It features a nice restrained design, screaming deep-etched photo, a subtle smashed backboard and simply highlights ‘Air’.
Likely the easiest in this entire list to add to your collection, these are readily available for sale online. There is also a 1/1 buyback autograph version.
#9 2003-04 Michael Jordan Die-Cut All-Star
Regular readers will have guessed this card would make it to my top ten list. Back in 93 I was a huge fan of the Die-Cut All-Star set - the only disappointment with it was the fact that there was no Jordan. (My other PC players Shaq, Hardaway and Olajuwon were all accounted for however!)
Thankfully that was remedied in 2003 when Upper Deck released the follow up set of 03-04 Die-Cut All-Stars. This card features the elegant and restrained design along with the key shape die-cut. It also features Michael Jordan in the All-Star jersey which is a nice addition.
Along with the standard version of the card, there is also a ‘Black’ parallel limited to 25 copies and a buyback auto limited to 24 copies.
If you love the design as I do you’ll also appreciate the 2007-08 Michael Jordan Die-Cut All-Star. It is a similarly designed card and looks just as great in any collection. Recent sales include an SCG 8 for $835.
#8 1998-99 Michael Jordan Star Rubies #23
I knew I wanted to feature one of the Star Rubies by Skybox but choosing just one was very difficult. In the end I settled on the 1998-99 Michael Jordan Star Rubies #23 as I slightly prefer the unique foil treatment of the surface.
Limited to only 50 copies, this card is highly sought after by the highest end Jordan card collectors. The 98-99 Jordan Star Rubies features Skybox’s usual beautiful design along with a grain-style foil surface which pairs perfectly with an aggressive deep-etched photo of Jordan.
This is not to say the other Skybox Star Rubies aren’t amazing - I just had to choose one. As a series of inserts they are some of the nicest looking ever produced.
Some were also released as part of Fleer’s retro sets.
I’m not aware of any recent sales but do recall sales in 2013 of a BGS 9 for the realm of $10,000.
#7 1994-95 Michael Jordan Refractor
The refractor series style of parallel inserts produced by Topps Finest in the early 90’s have gone on to become some of the most popular style of cards ever produced. As the light passes over the surface of the card it reflects back with a rainbow style ‘refraction’.
I highly recommending adding some to your collection if you haven’t seen one in person. They are true standout cards in any collection.
Here at number 7 I have chosen the 94-95 Michael Jordan Refractor. This was the second year that Topps Finest produced the refractor parallels and it features Jordan wearing number 45 which he donned upon his first return to the NBA.
I’ve chosen this card over the inaugural 93-94 Michael Jordan Refractor due to the history displayed in the card with the #45 jersey. Additionally there is an interesting aspect to this card in that there is a base version available where Jordan is wearing #23.
The Jordan refractor was a tough pull in the early 90’s but they are still readily available and easy to add to your collection.
#6 1997-98 Michael Jordan UD Game Jersey Auto
One of my notable mentions was the first appearance of a Michael Jordan Bulls game used jersey card - at number six in my top ten is the very first Michael Jordan game used jersey memorabilia card ever produced. And to boot it also comes autographed!
The 1997-98 Michael Jordan Game Used Jersey Auto card from Upper Deck features a piece of authentic Michael Jordan game used All-Star jersey. The card design is geared 100% toward appreciating the piece of historic memorabilia embedded in the card - it is made to look like a piece of jersey itself.
The corners are rounded which adds a nice, subtle point of difference.
In addition to the GU jersey patch, the card features an on-card signature by Michael Jordan. It is limited to 23 copies serial numbered by hand on the card front surface.
There is also a non-serialled, non-autographed version available.
I’m not aware of any recent sales of the autographed version but there was a sale of a raw copy of the non-autographed version for $8000 recently.
#5 1995 SP Michael Jordan Baseball Autograph
Number five in my top ten isn’t even a basketball card. It ticks two huge boxes for inclusion in the list however!
The 1995 SP Top Prospects Michael Jordan Autograph card was Michael Jordan’s first pack distributed autograph. It also features Jordan in his short tenure as a baseball player and is actually part of SP’s baseball set.
The card features the same photography and design (on the front) as the standard SP Top Prospects Jordan card however has been signed in blue sharpie with a bold on card autograph by Michael Jordan.
Being the first ever pack pulled Michael Jordan autograph gives this card a seriously important standing in the hobby. Though it is not serial numbered it is assumed very few were produced and as such very rarely appears for sale online.
The last sale I recall was a BGS 9.5 in around 2011 for $14,000. Should one come up for sale today I am sure it would command many times that sales price.
#4 1997-98 Michael Jordan Precious Metal Gems Green
The PMG greens have become some of the hobby’s most sought after cards in recent years. Interestingly they weren’t so popular back in the days of their release in the late 90’s.
Number four in my top ten list is the 97-98 Michael Jordan PMG Green. While there are a number of Precious Metal Gems (green, red, retro releases of each and retro blue), the 97-98 PMG Green is far and away the most stunning.
PMGs are parallels to the standard Metal Universe sets. They feature a single colour full foil surface over the ‘metal’ background of the base cards.
The 97-98 Michael Jordan PMG Green is limited to 10 cards (with one collector known to have multiples!) and was produced during Jordan’s ‘Last Dance’.
The last copy to sell was a PSA ‘altered’ copy which sold for $350,000 - the most ever spent on a Michael Jordan card.
- Buy any Michael Jordan PMG
- Buy Michael Jordan PMG Green
- Buy Michael Jordan PMG Red
- Buy Michael Jordan PMG Blue
#3 1993-94 Michael Jordan Scoring Kings
The Michael Jordan Scoring Kings - like Michael Jordan himself - is explosive. That’s the best way to describe it. An explosion of lightning. An explosion of Jordan’s raw power. An explosion of stunning purple-tinged foil.
This card has raced up in value over the past few years as collectors who only ever saw them through plate glass at card shops found them readily available online.
The card features the king of scoring exploding in a stunning design. The lightning reflects light beautifully in hand while the perfect accompaniment - the deep-etched photo of Michael Jordan - stands out among the lightning. It’s truly an example of what it must have felt like for Jordan’s opponents.
The Michael Jordan Scoring Kings isn’t rare - which is a great thing for Jordan card collectors! It is still very affordable for all collectors. Recent sales include a raw complete set for $610, a raw Jordan for $325, a PSA 9 for $1425 and a BGS 9 for $1231.
There is also a buyback auto version and retro releases available.
#2 1986-87 Michael Jordan ‘Rookie Card’
The 86-87 Michael Jordan Rookie Card will likely always be the most sought after Jordan card ever made. While not his first appearance on an NBA licensed card, the 86-87 Fleer is considered by most to be his rookie card.
Rookie cards will always be the most sought after collectors of sports players. They feature the player in their first appearances kicking off stellar careers.
The design of the 86-87 Fleer Michael Jordan card - with it’s red, white and blue coupled with Jordan flying to the rim - captures perfectly what Jordan was to become. The card itself has become one of the world’s most recognisable collectibles.
It is a highly reprinted and counterfeited card. So much so that I would only recommend collectors buy graded copies unless they can view the card in hand with a jeweler’s loupe.
Autographed copies are available also however Jordan is forbidden from signing more as part of his contract with Upper Deck making them a finite resource.
If the rookie card is out of your price range there is the 86-87 Michael Jordan Rookie Sticker which could take its place nicely in your collection. It is from the same set as the base 86-87 card however still, in my view, very undervalued and therefore much more affordable.
#1 1984-85 Star Co Michael Jordan ‘XRC’
Coming in at what I believe to be the greatest Michael Jordan card of all time is the Michael Jordan 1984-85 Star Co #101. Denoted by many to be his XRC, there are others who call this Michael Jordan’s true rookie card.
I’ve talked to a number collectors about the arguments for and against the XRC status of this card - see the article Star Co #101 - XRC or true Michael Jordan rookie card?
The 84-85 Star Co card was the first NBA licensed trading card featuring Michael Jordan playing for the Bulls. He is in his first year in the NBA on this card.
The card has all the vintage old school appeal and charm of cards produced in the 80’s. It features Jordan taking a rebound in front of an enthralled audience while sporting his usual fierce aggression.
Bordered in ‘Bulls red’, Jordan in his first year in the NBA, a talking piece with all its history and the appeal of cards produced in the 80’s - the 84-85 Star Co Michael Jordan #101 is the ultimate Michael Jordan card.
Recently I caught up with Steve Taft who has on consignment the very images used to produce this and most other Star Co cards from 83-86. See the article: Original Images Used To Produce 1984-85 Star Company Cards Surface.
Like the 86-87 Fleer, this card is heavily reprinted and counterfeited so it should only be bought in graded form.
So there you have my personal top ten Michael Jordan cards of all time. I’m always keen to hear from other collectors so feel free to get in touch with your top ten.