Basketball card

Dropping Dimes

Basketball has a rich history of superstars, but as a kid growing up in a suburb of Boston, the two players I idolized most were Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. To me, the way they played basketball was special, and the respect those guys had for each other was heartwarming. What put those guys above the rest wasn’t just their ability to score, but also their crazy court awareness and insane ability to get the ball to the open man for an assist. A perfect pass is a beautiful thing.

There were none better at racking up the assists than John Stockton and Jason Kidd. Stockton is the assist king and holds the NBA record for most assists, with an unbelievable 15,806, all of which he amassed during his 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz. His numbers really exploded once the Jazz acquired Malone, and when that happened Stockton led the league in assists for NINE STRAIGHT SEASONS. Yes, you read that correctly. And in that time, he was averaging around 13 assists per game. Truly incredible.

Kidd was also no stranger to the perfect pass. He is second all time, with 12,091 and is the only other player to clear the 12,000 career assist mark. Like Bird and Magic, Kidd also could fill up the stat sheet and is fourth all-time in triple doubles with 107, trailing only Magic, Westbrook, and Oscar Robertson.

As great as these two point men were on the court, I want to know how their cards have held up with collectors, so I’ll focus on a rookie card for each player and see what the price action has been over the past two years.

Stockton’s Fleer Rookie

Stockton’s rookie card comes from the 1988 Fleer set, and is card #115. Its a nice card of him dribbling the ball and he is the only one featured on the card. Since it is from the 1988 Fleer set, there is also no distractions or card noise on the card and it’s just a photo with a simple two-color border and minimal text (only five words… they kept things simple back in the day).

1988 Fleer John Stockton Rookie card (#115)

This is an easy to find ungraded card, but the population of high grade PSA 10s is below 750, so its rare but not prohibitively so. With a population around 750, there is also ample data on PSA’s website, so it is very easy to track how this card has done over time. The median price from the five most recent sales of the PSA 10 was $625, and those five sales took place between July 20th – July 30th.

Going back to July, 2018, we can see the Stockton PSA 10s were selling at a much more affordable price point. If we use the same logic from above, and take the median price point from the last five sales in July, 2018, we’d arrive at a price of $153, which means the Stockton PSA 10’s are selling at present for about four times what they sold for back in 2018! So collectors are making dimes just as quickly as Stockton used to distribute them.

Kidd’s Finest Rookie

Kidd entered the league with the Dallas Mavericks in the 1994-95 season, and by that time there were more companies making cards compared to Stockton’s rookie season. There are many Kidd rookies to choose from, but I’m going with his 1994-95 Topps Finest rookie (#286).

1994-95 Topps Finest Jason Kidd Rookie card (#286)

For novice collectors, the 94-95 Finest set is both fun and frustrating. The fun part is the colorful splat-like design in the background, plus it was one of the earliest sets to have a refractor.

The frustrating thing about this set was the inclusion of card protectors, sometimes called card coatings. These were thin pieces of clear film that came attached to the cards and some people never removed them. So collectors know there are essentially four types of each card in this set: the non-refractor with no coating, the non-refractor with coating, the refractor with no coating, and the refractor with coating.

I’m only going to highlight the prices for the non-refractor card without the coating. I do not like the coatings at all, and in fact had an entire post where I ranted about them (here), so lets look at how the prices have done for the Kidd’s Finest non-refractor no coating rookie.

I really can not stand card protectors.

Like the Stockton rookie, there are a decent number of the Kidd’s Finest rookie cards available both graded and ungraded. But in order to make a similar comparison to the Stockton rookie, I’ll focus on the graded PSA 10 rookies. In the months of June and July, there were 5 PSA 10 cards sold, with a median price of $111, so compared to Stockton, the Kidd PSA 10 is much easier on the wallet.

Going back to the same June/July time period in 2018, PSA has data for only one sale at $60. However, if we go back a little further and grab all five sales between March 2018 to July 2018, we’d establish a median price of $54, not that different from the July 2018 sale. So using simple math, we can deduce that the Finest Kidd rookie cards have essentially doubled in price in a little over two years. Not bad, but not nearly as good as the Stockton rookie cards.

If I had to make an educated guess, I’d assume this trend would persist, although perhaps not at this same rate going forward. But collectors, myself included, tend to gravitate to players who lead certain categories, and Stockton is in another league when it comes to career assists. Until some player in the distant future comes close to breaking his career assist record, I expect the high PSA grade Stockton cards to sell at a premium, and rightfully so.

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