Basketball card

It’s All About The Chamberlains

It’s been almost 60 years since it happened, but every basketball fan knows (or should know) about Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. It’s hands down the most incredible single game statistic in basketball.  As insane as Kobe’s 81-point game was (wait… was that really back in 2006… I’m getting old), Wilt still had him beat by 19 points.  This was also long before the NBA adopted the 3-point line so none of his points were from downtown. Wilt also pulled down 25 boards in that game and he went 28 for 32 (nearly 88%) from the free throw line, which is INSANE for a big man.  Come on!  Even some point guards today couldn’t hit 28 free throws if you gave them 35 or even 40 attempts (cough cough Rajon Rondo cough). 

So what made me think of this insane stat?  Ballout hit 100 views on July 26th and I was pumped about that.  I have no idea if 100 views over 9 days is good, bad, or what, but it put the 100 figure in my head so the topic was obvious: Wilt Chamberlain.  Oh and a special thanks to my mom for visiting my blog 99 times.  Love you Mom!

On to some Chamberlain cards. The two cards I’m covering are way out of my price range, but fun to look at nonetheless. The first card I want to admire is the 1999-00 Upper Deck Retro Inkredible Wilt Chamberlain card (#WC). Sadly, this must have been one of the last cards to ever feature Wilt’s signature because he passed away in October, 1999. That being said, the Retro Inkredible card is a really nice looking card featuring the on-card signature of one of the greatest players to every step foot on the hardwood.

1999-00 Upper Deck Retro Inkredible Wilt Chamberlain (#WC)

There is a lot to like about this card. For one, it’s got a cool retro feel to it, which works well for an old school legend like Wilt. It also has a simple, clean, almost minimalist design, with just a black and white picture of Wilt smiling in the top section of the card and a nice big space on the bottom section of the card, allowing Wilt plenty of space to pen his signature.

I only saw three copies of this card selling on eBay, one was graded a BGS 9 and the other two were graded BGS 9.5. With only three data points, it doesn’t make sense to try to find or look for any trends, but what is very clear to me is that if you have one of these cards you are quite lucky (and I’m quite jealous). One of the BGS 9.5s was listed with a Buy It Now price of $15,000 and the other BGS 9.5 was selling at auction and with two days left to go it was already a bit up above $10,000. My best guess is the card selling at auction could easily go for $12,500 if not higher.

The other card I want to highlight is Wilt Chamberlain’s 1961 Fleer rookie, card #8. I don’t have much to say about the look of this card, it comes from a classic set and that’s really all there is to it. I did notice two interesting aspect on the back of the card. The first being the level of precision with Wilt’s height. Rather than simply reporting his colossal 7-foot-1-inch height and leave it at that, they decided to go one step further and include the extra 1/16 of an inch. To me, that is an odd level of precision, but maybe they had a good reason for it back in ’61.

1961 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain rookie card #8

The other interesting tidbit from the back of this card is the copyright reads “Frank H. Fleer Corp” rather than just “Fleer Corp”. Sure, the copyright really isn’t that interesting, but to me it’s cool to see the original name of the company with the founder’s full name. I bet Frank’s kids and grand kids have some sick cards in their collections.

Back of 1961 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain rookie card #8

Moving back to the card itself, I’d say this is a fantastic card from a very early set. However, its a very difficult card to come by. In fact, there are fewer than 1,600 PSA graded copies, and only 34 copies graded 9 or higher. Given the scarcity of the high grades (PSA 9s and 10s), I want to focus on PSA 7s and 8s to see how the price history looks for the Chamberlain rookie.

I wish there were more data points, but even with what is available on PSA’s website, you can see a very nice bump in value with this card. Looking at both the PSA 7s and 8s in 2020, we can see that the 7s generally sell around the $10K range, while the 8s sell a bit higher and go for around $15K – $17.5K. I’m actually a bit surprised to not be seeing more of a spread from the 7s to the 8s. Its very possible one person overpaid or one individual got a great deal and its messing with the limited data.

But if we dial it back two years, we get a good sense of how these cards have appreciated quite nicely over two years. There was a PSA 7 that sold on June 19th for $3.1K and there was a PSA 8 that sold on July 4th for $10.8K. These prices from back in 2018 show that the present day 7s have appreciated by over 200%, while the 8’s have appreciated by “only” about 60%. If we take the average of those two, we’d see an appreciation rate of roughly 130%, which is a remarkable rate over such a short period of time. Someone please tell Jim Cramer we’re talking mad money over here… plus Wilt was a Phily guy!

Wilt’s 100 point record will likely never be broken and as we can see from his rookie card, his cards are a great investment and would be a marque card for almost any collector. His autograph cards, like the Inkredible card featured earlier, will also likely continue to appreciate in value at a steady clip given how rare Wilt autograph cards are. With all eyes typically on Jordan’s and Lebron’s these days, it may be a prudent move for higher end collectors to be on the lookout for Wilt cards like these in order to possibly secure a high value card at a relative discount. And if anyone has an extra of either of these cards, feel free to send it my way.

The last thing I’ll say is this: I’ve peaked with my image designs and article title.  I can not do any better than that, so please don’t expect this same level brilliance going forward. Man this is fun!

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