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Basketball card

Rajon Rondo Rookies

When the Boston Celtics made the trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen I was absolutely elated, because I felt like the C’s finally had a team that could make a deep playoff push and possibly even have enough to win a title or two. The only two unknowns at the time were point guard Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins at center (Perkins also happens to be a big time basketball card collector, what a guy!).

Perkins was a surprisingly solid center, but the biggest surprise for me back in the 2007-08 season was seeing Rondo develop into an incredibly efficient point guard. For that team, I honestly think he was one of the the best suited guards to be running the offense. And as a point guard, Rondo couldn’t have asked for a better group of veteran players to help him develop.

I’ll admit, I didn’t watch much of the finals this year, but when I watched game 2 I saw some vintage Rondo on full display, dropping 16 points, 10 assists, and grabbing 4 rebounds in a mere 26 minutes of playing time.

As I was doing my Rondo research, I came across a stat that shocked me, and I doubt there are too many fans of the game that know about Rajon Rondo being 6th place all time for assists in the playoffs. He took that sixth spot from Celtic legend Larry Bird. Another crazy little fact for you all – Rondo is the only player to win a Championship with both the Celtics and the Lakers!

NBA All-Time Playoff Assist Leaders (as of December 2020)

My one big issue with Rondo on that dominant Big 3 Celtics team was the personality issues he apparently had with Ray Allen. Given that Ray is one of my all time favorites, I was disappointed to hear about the on and off the court drama which led to the splitting up of an incredibly strong (albeit old) Celtics squad.

I hadn’t given Rondo rookies much thought until I decided to bid on a 2006-07 Topps Finest Rajon Rondo autograph refractor card (#72), fully expecting to get it for under $25. Even with the whole Covid card craze still in full swing, I wasn’t expecting many people to be interested in Rondo, especially since he was coming off the bench for the Lakers throughout the playoffs. However, it turns out there are a few more like minded folks out there than I expected.

I really like the Finest Rondo rookie, but not at the prices I’m currently seeing on eBay, so I decided to dig in a bit to see if there were any other autographed Rondo rookies I could easily add to my collection without breaking the bank. One other Rondo rookie I recently discovered is his 2006 Bowman Chrome Autographed rookie card (#163). So lets check these rookie cards out.

2006-07 Topps Finest Rondo Auto Rookie (#72)

I’m a big fan of the Finest cards from the mid-2000s in general, and while the 06-07 set isn’t my favorite, I still like the look. As for this Rondo rookie, I like the design for the most part. I’m all for the nice light background which lets the refractor elements really pop in proper lighting.

Rajon Rondo Topps Finest Auto Rookie
2006-07 Topps Finest Rajon Rondo Autographed Rookie (#72)

However, I don’t like how they opted for the sticker type of autograph. On top of that, Rondo’s “RR” auto is pretty weak. Not sure how many of these he needed to sign, but he could have put in a bit more effort rather than just going with his initials. However, fans of Rondo know that he has the Rolls-Royce logo tattooed on his back, so if that is kind of what he was going for with his autograph on these cards, I can respect it a bit more.

The lowest price I was able to find an ungraded Finest Rajon Rondo Auto rookie was $50 on eBay. In typical eBay fashion, there were no auctions, and the $50 card was a Buy It Now offer. Sorry, but there is no way I’m paying… unless I see a compelling opportunity among carded copies of this card.

The graded PSA 10s have been recently selling for between $100 and $400, but the recent trend is severely negative. Back in September when the Lakers were on their way to winning another championship, this Rondo rookie sold for $215 on September 22nd, and a day later a PSA 10 sold for $400. However, October was not kind to owners of this card, with a PSA 10 selling on October 4th for $290 (not bad…) and then selling for $103 roughly 3 weeks later (ouch!).

I wouldn’t expect a PSA 10 copy of this card to dip too much below $100, but it certainly helps to put the $50 ungraded price in perspective. Final verdict on paying $50: NO WAY.

2006 Bowman Chrome Rondo Auto Rookie (#163)

This is a very interesting looking card, and for the most part I like it. The first thing that jumps out to me with this Rondo Rookie is the pose Rondo is in – its certainly not your typical “hold the ball and smile” pose. Its just this cool looking flex while protecting two basketballs pose that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before but I think it looks cool. I wonder if he did that organically or of the photographer put him in that position?

2006 Bowman Chrome Rondo Auto Rookie (#163)
2006 Bowman Chrome Rondo Autograph Rookie (#163)

The next thing that I that jumps out to me with this card is the weird Fred Flinstone clothing patterned background. Maybe only people of a certain vintage see that (i.e. watched cartoons in the 80s), but if you ever watched the Flinstone cartoons as a kid (or took those chalky vitamins, another 80’s kid thing) you know what I’m talking about.

The last thing I’ll comment on with this card is the lengthier Rondo autograph. Unlike the Finest card featured earlier, Rondo looks like he took the time to sign his full name. Its not a very legible autograph, but I do appreciate the effort. I’m sure it gets boring to sign your name on thousands of cards, but any attempt at a real auto looks better than just a quick “RR”.

Just as important as how this card looks is how well its selling and what its worth. The lowest priced ungraded card I was able to find on eBay was selling for a buy it now price of $60 or best offer. My first impression is that if I could scoop this up for under $40 I’d be happy – but before jumping to any conclusions I need to see what the PSA 10s are selling for.

When checking the PSA 10 prices on December 8th, I saw that there was only one card graded logged in the price history (although there were 16 graded with looking at the Population report, including 10 PSA 10s). With only 10 PSA 10s for this Bowman auto rookie I can feel fairly confident that the Bowman cards are a bit more rare than the Finest set. That one PSA 10 sold on June 24th for $77, and my best guess is that a PSA 10 now would sell for at least $200, probably even closer to $250, so I’d be fine taking my chances with an ungraded card for around $40. I’ll probably throw a $35 offer at that seller and see what happens.

Overall, I think Rondo is a polarizing player, but he certainly can be a difference maker for any team he plays on, as long as he has enough chemistry with his teammates to be a asset instead of a distraction. He certainly made his value known on the Celtics his rookie and sophomore years, and I’d argue he was a difference maker for the Lakers this year. I’m not sure they would have won without Rondo.

Still, while I want to add a Rondo rookie to my personal collection, I don’t think his cards will have much long term value. He has two rings, and hes currently 6th all time for playoff assists, but outside of Celtics and Lakers fans, I think in 10 years most basketball fans will be saying “Rajon who?”.

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