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Basketball card

All About That Base: 93-94 Topps Finest

One of the sets that proved the basketball card industry was coming out of the junk card era was the 1993-94 Topps Finest set. This colorful metallic-looking set was wildly different from the drab designs of other early 90’s basketball cards and it was a welcome change. The 93-94 Topps Finest cards debuted a few years before I really got into basketball card collecting, and it’s always been a set that I’ve wanted to revisit. This also may be the first card set to feature refractors. In this post, I’m going to focus on four player’s non-refractor base cards and see how they’ve performed over the past two years.

The first card in focus features Michael Jordan, as his card is card #1 from this set. As you can see from the shot below, this is a bit of an awkward photo of Jordan and I can’t tell if he’s pulling down a rebound or what, but this photo captures him at a strange angle. It also strikes me as odd how his image is not well centered on this card. This set in general has a wild design, with all the crazy acid-trip colors along the border, and I don’t own any cards from this set yet so I can’t say definitively, but I bet these cards look much better in hand than on screen. The refractor images actually do photograph well, which is why I chose to use refractors for all photos below.

1993-94 Topps Finest Michael Jordan #1 (Photo is of a refractor)

Thankfully, PSA has plenty of freely available data for this card so we can easily see how it has appreciated since 2018. If we look at Jordan’s non-refractor PSA 10, we see that this card typically sells for around $400-$500 today. And if we dial it back to the summer of 2018, the PSA 10s were typically being sold in the $$60-$80 range. So like so many other cards I’ve highlighted in recent posts, we are seeing a very strong pop in value over the past two years, with this PSA 10 Jordan appreciating by 400%.

Next on my list to cover is Larry Bird, and his card just happens to be card #2 in this set. Unlike the Jordan photo, I think this is a fantastic profile shot of Bird mid-shot. The crazy coloring is all still there along the border, but Bird’s image is more centered on the card which also means less of the brownish copper background behind him. So on looks alone, I like the Bird card more than the Jordan. The back of the Bird card also pay’s homage to Bird’s retirement and the Celtic’s retiring Bird’s jersey #33, which I think is a nice touch.

1993-94 Topps Finest Larry Bird #2 (Photo is of a refractor)

The PSA website also has ample sales of Bird’s non-refractor PSA 9 (not enough data for 10s) card so we can see how it’s done over time and how it’s done relative for the Jordan card. The most recent PSA 9 sold on July, 22 for $89 and roughly one month before that, a PSA 9 sold for $75, so generally speaking the present day value of this PSA 9 card is roughly $80. Going back to 2018, there was a sale of a PSA 9 for just $10! So the Bird card appears to be appreciating at a higher rate than the Jordan, but in both cases, these Topps Finest cards look to be stellar cards for collectors looking for strong value growth.

The third card in this set, and the third card in focus, features Shaquille O’Neal. All in all, this is a pretty great shot of Shaq. It looks like he is either going up for a block, going up to grab a rebound, or perhaps it was a photo taken during the opening tip off. Regardless, it’s a great image of Shaq in a white Magic jersey with his #32 jersey number in plain sight. The image of Shaq is also well centered on the card so there isn’t much of the brownish copper background.

1993-94 Topps Finest Shaquille O’Neal #3 (Photo is of a refractor)

There wasn’t as much data as I’d hoped for with Shaq’s card, but still there was enough to see that the value has, like Jordan and Bird, popped quit substantially. Shaq’s PSA 10 card typically sold in the $35 range back in 2018. Presently, the PSA 10 has sold at a wild range, selling for $100 back in April, 2020 and only a month later a PSA 10 copy sold for $450 (assuming the data is correct and there wasn’t a labeling error). If we just err on the side of being conservative, and assume Shaq’s card should sell for $100, it’s still returned about 200% for collectors in 2 years and that is another remarkable data point.

Skipping way down the list, the last card I want to focus on is Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, who was featured on card #189. This was actually Penny’s rookie card so there is plenty of data for graded copies. But before we get to the value of this card, I first wanted to touch on the picture they used, which I’m pleased with the for most part. It is a well centered photo of Penny in an all black pinstripe Magic uniform and it looks like he just passed the ball.

1993-94 Topps Finest Anfernee Hardaway #189 (Photo is of a refractor)

Since this was Penny’s rookie, there was a good amount of public data on PSA’s website. However, there was not a lot of PSA 10 data. In fact, there were only 3 PSA 10 transactions going back to May 1, 2020, and they were all over the place in terms of selling price. One lucky person got a PSA 10 for $150 and the other two PSA 10 sales were for $600 and $650. So lets be ultra conservative and say the Penny 10 rookie should sell for around $200. Even taking that very conservative figure, we see that 2 years ago these cards were selling for only around $55, so they’ve more than tripled in value (and are nearly 10x in value if you use $600 as your base value)!

So to recap, we’ve seen the following trends for these cards over the past 2 years: Jordan’s #1 base card is up 400%, Birds #2 base card is up around 700%, Shaq’s #3 base card is up at least 200%, and Penny’s rookie card #189 is up at least 300%. I do not think these trends will continue over the next 2 years, but I do think, regardless of whether you are a hobby collector or more of an investor-type collector, these cards will do well in the long run.

The reason I expect the 1993-94 Topp Finest cards will do well going forward is because they are fun cards to look at and they are a set that features a few of the biggest names in basketball. So definitely be on the lookout for these colorful cards and buy one or two if you can. And like always, if have any of these sitting in a box someplace and you don’t want them, send ’em my way!

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