Kebma Walker recently helped the Celtics sweep the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Walker and Tatum combined for 58 points in the fourth and final game, more than half of the teams total of 110 points. This is Kemba Walker’s first trip to the second round of the NBA playoffs and if he can put up the same great numbers in round two as he did in round one, he may help the Celtics get past the Toronto Raptors and move onto the Eastern Conference Finals (assuming the playoffs continue).
If I had to rank Kemba, I’d say he is probably my third favorite Boston Celtic at the moment, behind Tatum and Brown. But after seeing Walker throw in 20 or more points and grab 4 or more boards per game in round one, I’m starting to really appreciate his ability to get it done on the hardwood.
I feel conflicted, because his name and his #8 jersey number remind me of a former Celtic who I could not stand. I’m of course talking about the wiggling, three-point chucking, extremely over-rated Antoine Walker, who the Celtics selected in 1996 with their 6th round pick, passing on both Kobe Bryant (13th pick) and Steve Nash (15th pick). If only they had that to do over again!
My plan with this post is not to compare stats or playoff performances with each player, but to look at one or two of each players rookie cards and see what the demand (or lack thereof) has been for a few different rookie cards. Always best to let the free market weigh in. And as always, I’ll try and grab the PSA high grade prices when available.
1996 Bowman’s Best Rookie Antoine Walker (#R6)
The first thing that jumps out at me with Antoine’s Bowman’s Best rookie card is just how thin and in shape he looks. He had the Celtics fooled, because it wouldn’t be long before his laziness would set in and he would start to pack on some unwelcome pounds.
I selected the Bowman’s Best Atomic Refractor rookie because I’m a big sucker for refractors, and the atomic refractor from Bowman’s Best is one of my favorites. The card literally glistens and looks absolutely awesome, plus PSA does a decent job tracking data for these cards.
On eBay right now, there is only one Antoine atomic refractor for sale, and it has a Buy It Now asking price of $41 (link to eBay). For a card that is pretty rare, I’m actually a little shocked they aren’t asking at least an even $50 for it. By comparison, the Ray Allen atomic refractor has a Buy It Now price of $300. So take that as you will.
Like I said, PSA has some data on the Antoine atomic refractor. The most recent sale was a PSA 9 that sold in July for $25. Wow, an atomic rookie refractor with a PSA 9 grade going for $25. Looks like other collectors are not fans of the wiggler and a little faith in this world has just been restored to my soul.
The PSA 10 Antoine atomic refractors are not selling for that much more than the 9s, with the most recent PSA 10 selling in June, 2020 for an even $50. The second most recent PSA 10 sold back in February, 2019 for $85, so it seems like the Antoine atomic refractor rookies are losing steam with collectors, which despite my obvious bias against Antoine, makes a lot of sense to me because there are so many better players that collectors can be putting their money towards.
Also, seeing the most recent PSA 10 come in at $50, there is no way anyone should be paying anything higher than $20 for an ungraded Antoine Walker atomic refractor. Buyer beware, that $41 price for the ungraded card on eBay is way too high.
1996 Star Date 2000 Antoine Walker (#15)
First, I just want to say I love the space theme look of the 1996 Skybox E-X2000 Star Date 2000, although that name is a mouthful. The cards feature players out in the cosmos with faint Saturn-like rings around them and a ball with trailing action lines. SkyBox typically featured basketballs with trailing flames, but the trailing lines look cool and have a mid-90s feel to them (they remind me a little of that laser background from my early 90s school photos, see here for reference). These cards also look to have a reflective refractor-like quality to them and I bet they look great in person.
The Antoine Star Date 2000 card looks pretty nice and features Walker in the mostly white Celtics uniform dribbling the ball with his left hand. It looks like he’s in the middle of a stutter step or something and about to break into a hard move to the hoop (which I rarely remember happening after his first year or two in the league).
At present, there are six ungraded copies of this card selling on eBay so its not that rare. The ungraded eBay cards are listed for as low as $0.99 at auction and as high as a Buy It Now asking price of $35. The $35 card has a hilarious image posted with it, because on the card itself there is a $12 sticker… rookie move bro!
There was only one transaction listed on the PSA website and it was for a PSA 10 that sold back in November, 2018 for $165. If the Star Date Antoine rookies follow that same path as the atomic refractor rookie, than this card should be worth around $100 today, although I’d love to see a new piece of data before jumping to a hasty conclusion. Even still, it looks like there isn’t much collector love being thrown in Antoine’s direction.
2012-13 Panini Prizm Kemba Walker Rookie #225
I’m generally a fan of the Panini Prizm rookie cards, mainly for their simplicity, and the set from 2012-2103 is solid. Kemba Walker’s Panini Prizm rookie card is pretty good, it features Kemba bouncing the ball between his legs while wearing the mostly white Charlotte Bobcats uniform against the silver background. One thing that bothers me slightly is the lack of a rookie tag on the front of the card. I have come to expect all modern era (post 1996 or so) cards to include the rookie indicator and the fact that this card lacks the rookie tag is annoying.
The back of the card has a nice write up about Walker plus his first year stats. Building on my annoyance of the lack of a rookie tag on the front is the inclusion of his stats from his rookie season on the back. Is this really a rookie card?
Anyway, the write up on the back mentions how Kemba was the first rookie in the 2011-12 season to notch a triple double. I had no idea. Just pulling down 10+ rebounds in a game for a relatively short guard (he’s only 6’1″) is an impressive feat. Doing that in conjunction with the other stats needed to complete a triple double in your rookie season is huge! I hope he pulls that off against the Raptors in the playoffs for a game (or two).
The Kemba prizm rookies are fairly common on eBay. On August 26, 2020 there were at least 20 ungraded Kemba rookies selling for as low as $8 in an auction and as high as a Buy It Now asking price of $200. There were also a handful of PSA graded cards, mostly with grades of 9 or 10.
The nice thing with Panini Prizm cards for star players like Kemba is that there is tons of data on PSA’s website for high grade cards, and thankfully Kemba’s card has loads of data. The median sale price for the five most recent PSA 10’s (sold between August 10th and August 24th) was $510. If we dial it back two years and look at the PSA 10s from August, 2018, we see the median sale price was roughly $20!
That is an insane amount of pop for a player who is arguably the third best on his current team! Are collectors are showing Kemba too much love? Or is this just another data point to use in the craziness happening right now with the Covid card craze? Only time will tell, but I’m happy to see Kemba is already easily outselling Antoine.
2012-13 Panini Marquee Kemba Walker Rookie #162
The Kemba Walker Panini Marquee rookie has an interesting look to it, but if I stare at it too long I get a headache. The card features Kemba dribbling the ball in the deep blue Charlotte Bobcats uniform, and what jumps out to me are the weird background design and the oversized word “Marquee” at the base of the card.
The design in the background is difficult for a bad writer for myself to describe, but it is a general vertical wave-like pattern that reminds me of the wave pattern on older 1960s TV shows or moview when characters would imagine a new scenario. Its not really an offensive background, but its a bit busy for my taste.
At the base of the card is the card brand name, and the font and design calls too much attention to the brand. I’d have much preferred Panini to shrink that down to at least half the size they have it and move it over into the right hand corner of the card. To me, seeing the Bobcats logo on Walker’s shorts is more valuable and more interesting than seeing the huge letters calling attention to the Marquee brand.
The back of this card is a pretty simple, and rather than list any of Kemba’s stats, it gives one of his sophomore season career highlights. It mentions how Kemba used to settle for jump shots in his rookie year but by his second year he was much better at attacking the rim, which helped him notch a to date career-high of 32 points on December 15th against the Orlando Magic.
When I searched eBay for Kemba Walker Marquee rookie cards, I only saw four ungraded cards, and they were selling in a range of $1 at auction up to a $46 Buy It Now asking price.
I also went to check the PSA website to see what the high grade price history was for this Kemba rookie, and there was very little data. There were only five total PSA 10 transactions listed on the site, but those five transactions do tell a story. The PSA 10 Kemba rookie was selling in the $10-$17 range from February, 2018 to October, 2019.
Then the one sale in July, 2020 sold for $50. Just like that, in under a year, the price popped by over 200%. Part of this, maybe most of this, is a result of the Covid card craze, and it is nowhere near the pop seen with the Kempa Prizm rookie card, but still it signals that collectors value Kemba’s rookie and are willing to pay for his rookies. A statement that cannot be made for Antoine.
Lastly, I just threw up a poll yesterday to try and see how people on Twitter felt about Kemba vs Antoine. I asked if individuals would rather build a team around Kemba or around Antoine. The good news is the answers came back as I hoped and I finally got more than 2 responses (I got NINE!). Kemba took 66% of the vote and I’d totally agree, he is the much better player to build a team around. The three that voted for Antoine either clicked the wrong spot or hold some grudge against Kemba, but I’d love to get other peoples thoughts on the Kemba or Antoine not so great debate!