Undoubtedly the best card in my collection, and perhaps one of the coolest basketball cards ever made, is the 1980-81 Topps card featuring three Hall-Of-Famers: Larry Bird, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. What makes this card so special is the fact that it is the rookie card for BOTH Bird and Magic.
There’s so much to love about this card. The front of the card has a groovy 1970’s look to it, especially the font used to display the teams for each player. I especially love seeing how each team name looks in cursive. The 76’ers especially makes me think of their classic song from the 70’s (if you are unfamiliar, check it out here, it’s super catchy and will be stuck in your head for a while: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEKK3GVd150). My one complaint about the card is the photo’s aren’t very sharp. This may be a simple fact of my present day photo quality bias not fully appreciating the limitations of camera tech back in 1980, but I still wish the images were a bit cleaner and sharper.
The back of this card is also quite a treat, and say what you will about me as a collector, but I typically ignore altogether the backs of my cards. However, this classic card is a bit different. It has a vintage comic book and bubble gum card feel, which perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the Topps trademark at the bottom of each card segment says “1980 Topps Chewing Gum, Inc”. I also really appreciate the white-black-cobalt color motif and the fun facts about Bird and Magic.
Graded copies of this card, especially high grades, have been consistently on the rise for years. According to PSA’s website (psacard.com) There are only 23 GEM-MINT cards in existence, and those sell for a whopping $100K! However, if you’re like me and can’t afford anything close to that, then you’ll probably be looking at graded cards in the 6-8 range, which still command high prices in the $1,000 – $3,800 range.
Going back just 2 years, PSA 7’s were selling for around $300 and PSA 8’s were selling for roughly $800. However, in just two years, the price for both PSA 7’s and 8’s are up around 4x, with 7’s typically selling for around $1,200 and 8’s sometimes selling for as high as $3,500. If this blog is ever super successful, you can bet I’d be looking to buy a PSA 8 or higher for my growing collection.