There are many valuable 1990s basketball cards on the market. These iconic players dominated the court from Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant, and their trading cards are worth more than ever. Whether you're a seasoned collector or just starting, read on to understand which cards are must-haves for any serious collection.
The 1990s were a golden era for basketball, with legends like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant taking the court by storm. And as their fame skyrocketed, so did the value of their trading cards.
Whether you're a die-hard collector or looking to make an intelligent investment, these 15 most valuable 1990s basketball cards will knock your socks off. From iconic rookie cards to rare inserts and autographed gems, we've got everything you need to know about snagging one of these coveted pieces of sports memorabilia. Let’s get started.
1.1997-98 Kobe Bryant Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems
Kobe Bryant's Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems card is among the most valuable basketball cards. It was released in 1997, and only 10 were made.
Kobe Bryant was one of the most iconic basketball players of his generation. He tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in 2020, which shocked and saddened the world. One of his most popular cards is the 1998 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems card, which features him in a yellow Lakers jersey passing the ball. This card is highly sought-after by collectors and commands high prices on the secondary market. In 2022, the card was sold for $2,000,000 at an auction.
2. 1996-97 Kobe Bryant Chrome Refractor Rookie
Kobe Bryant's 1997 Chrome Refractor Rookie is among the most valuable basketball cards. The card was produced by Topps and is considered one of Kobe's rookie cards. The card depicts Kobe in his yellow Los Angeles Lakers uniform, looking to shoot the ball.
This particular card is scarce and has been graded as a “10” by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). As a result, the card is worth thousands of dollars—a BGS 10 version sold for $1,752,000 at an auction in 2021.
3. 1997 Michael Jordan Upper Deck Game Jersey (Autograph)
As one of the most iconic and famous athletes ever, it's no surprise that Michael Jordan's autographed Upper Deck game jersey is one of the most valuable basketball cards. It features Michael Jordan dribbling the ball at the 1992 starts game. The is considered iconic as it was the last time both Hall of Famer James Worthy and fellow Laker Magic Johnson were playing.
What makes this card so special is the fact that Jordan himself autographs it. His signature is considered one of the most valuable in sports, and this particular card is one of only a handful of signed Jordan jerseys. As such, it was sold for $1,440.000 in 2021 at an auction.
4. 1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe
The 1997 MJ Metal Universe cards, made of metal and featured Michael Jordan soaring in the air, this position became Michael Jordan’s playing trademark. These Metal Universe cards are some of the most valuable. Therefore, they are highly sought-after by collectors and can fetch high prices at auction.
One hundred cards were made, 90 were made in red foil, and ten were made in green. Among the 10, 6 were submitted for grading at PSA. The authentic card was for $915,000 in 2020 at an auction.
5. 1996 Finest Gold Refractor Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant's rookie card is among the most popular and valuable basketball cards ever produced. In the Topps Finest Gold Refractor set, the card was released in 1996 and featured a young Kobe in his yellow Los Angeles Lakers uniform dunking the ball from behind his back.
The card has been graded by several different organizations, with the highest grade being a perfect ten from PSA. The current record price for the card, as listed on eBay, is $500,000.
6. 1992 Classic Draft Pick Shaquille O'Neal Auto RC
Shaquille O'Neal is one of the most dominant players in NBA history, and his classic draft pick, auto RC is one of the most valuable basketball cards out there. This card was released in 1992 by Upper Deck and featured Shaq in his rookie year with the LSU jersey hanging on the rim with both legs in the air.
The card has Shaq’s autograph, and only a few were produced, making it more valuable. The card is graded as PSA 10 and listed as worth $500,000 on eBay.
7. 1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractor Allen Iverson Rookie
For a while, the most valuable card from the 1997 Topps Chrome basketball set was Shaquille O'Neal. But recently, another player has taken over the top spot – and it's none other than “The Answer” himself, Allen Iverson.
Iverson's rookie card is already one of the hobby's most popular and highly sought-after cards. The card features Allen Iverson in red sixers jersey celebrating with his teammates. In recent years, PSA 10 Gem Mint examples of Iverson's Refractor rookie have been listed for $250,000 on eBay.
8. 1999 Upper Deck Ovation Super Signatures Gold Michael Jordan
Released in 1998, the Upper Deck Ovation Super Signatures Gold Michael Jordan card is one of the most valuable basketball cards in the world. The card features two photos of MJ. One is staring far away while the other is dunking with one hand. The card with the autograph was graded as a ten and listed on eBay for $ 250,000.
9. Finest Gold Refractor, Kobe Bryant Rookie
Kobe Bryant's rookie card is the most valuable basketball card in the world. The card numbered 269 was released by Upper Deck in 1996 and is considered one of the finest gold refractor cards ever produced.
The card is extremely rare, with only a handful of examples known—one example of the card sold at auction for around $206,400. Kobe Bryant's rookie card is an incredible investment and will continue to increase in value in the years to come.
10. 1998 Michael Jordan Skybox Molten Metal
Michael Jordan's Skybox Molten Metal card is among the most valuable basketball cards. It was released in 1996 as part of the Skybox Premium set and is considered one of MJ's most iconic cards.
The card features Jordan in a red Chicago jersey doing a jump shot. The card is made of metal, which makes it very rare and collectible. The card is graded as Beckett 9 and was sold for $198,030 in 2021.
11. 1996-1997 E-X2000 Credentials Kobe Bryant Rookie
The 1997 E-X2000 Credentials set was released exclusively through Panini and featured 449 cards. Bryant's card features him in his yellow Lakers uniform about to make a quick turn at a game. The card was auctioned for $170,400 at Goldin auctions.
12. 1996 Finest Kobe Bryant Refractor W/Coating
Kobe Bryant is one of the most popular basketball players ever, and his cards are some of the most sought-after by collectors. One of the most valuable Kobe cards is the Finest Kobe Bryant Refractor with Coating.
This card was released in 1996 and is one of only 126 made. It features an image of Kobe in his yellow Lakers uniform dunking a ball from his back and is coated with a special refractor finish that makes it shine brightly. The current card sold went for $162,360 at Goldin Auctions.
13. Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 1 Kobe Bryant, Rookie
Kobe Bryant's rookie card, from the Flair Showcase Legacy Collection, is a row 1. It is in mint condition and has been graded by PSA as a nine out of ten. The card features Kobe dribbling a ball and has the ‘Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers Guard’ printed at the bottom.
The card graded 9.5 was sold for 136 530 at an auction. Rookie cards are always highly sought after by collectors, and this one is no exception.
14. 1999 Upper Deck Michael Jordan (Game Jersey Autographs)
Topps released a special Upper Deck Michael Jordan game-used jersey autograph card in 1998. The card features a piece of a game-worn Jersey from Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls and is signed by Jordan himself. The card is considered one of the most valuable basketball cards, with a PSA 10 (gem mint) example fetching $132,000 at the Heritage auction in 2021.
15. 1990 Kentucky Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal
One of the most valuable Shaq cards is the Kentucky Big Blue Shaquille O’Neal card, which features Shaq in an LSU jersey in the center position during a game. The PSA grades this card as a 10, the highest possible grade, and it is listed on eBay for $100,000.
While this may be a lot of money for some people, it is a bargain compared to other Shaq cards sold for much higher prices.
Are 1990's Basketball Cards Worth Money?
Basketball cards are some of the most popular sports collectibles around. While many people think of baseball cards when they think of valuable cards, basketball cards can be just as valuable – and sometimes even more so. If you’re wondering if your old basketball cards are worth anything, here is a look at some of the most valuable ones out there.
The 1997-98 Kobe Bryant Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Card. This card is considered one of the most coveted sports cards in the world, with a mint condition version fetching upwards of $2,000,000 at auction.
Collecting basketball cards from the 1990s is a great way to reconnect with your childhood, build an incredible memorabilia collection, and potentially make money. With this guide, you have all the information you need to search for some of the most valuable basketball cards released during that decade.