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Basketball card

1997-98 Topps Rock Stars

Checking out some of the top selling cards from the unique 1997-98 Topps Rock Star set – one of the earlier sets to feature a refractor parallel.

I’m typically not one for die cut cards, because the extra edges generally lead to more edges of the card that can be easily damaged, but one die cut parallel from the ’90s that I like and that is still fairly affordable is the 1997-98 Topps Rock Stars parallel.

One thing in particular that I love about this 20 card set, is that it was one of the earlier parallels to feature a refractor edition of each card, and the refractors look great. Nearly every player in this set was selected to multiple All Star teams, but for some reason Topps decided to feature one-time NBA All Star Tom Gugliotta (who wasn’t even in the top 100 scorers in the ’97-’98 season) over players like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, and Reggie Miller.

Despite the Gugliotta inclusion, they still were successful in capturing many of the late ’90s greats, and below I’ll break down the top graded PSA regular cards and refractor cards for the five most popular cards in this set, while also going back to 2019 to see how much each refractor and regular card has appreciated in a year.

RS1: Michael Jordan

Hands down the best card in the set is the Michael Jordan Rock Stars card. This is one of only two cards that I’m very interested in adding to my modest collection. I’m priced out of the refractor option, but the non-refractor is still pretty nice.

There are 120 top graded PSA 10 non-refractor Jordan Rock Stars, and 50 top graded refractors.

The most recent price of the Gem Mint PSA 10 non-refractor Jordan card was fetching around $450 – $500 in December, but the one sale in January 2021 went for $830! There was also a BGS 9.5 card that just sold on eBay on February 9th that went for $960. That’s a solid bump. Going back to end of 2019, the PSA 10 Jordan non-refractor Rock Star was going for under $200, so it has well more than tripled (and possibly quadrupled) in a little over a year.

1997 Topps Rock Stars Michael Jordan Refractor (RS1)
1997 Topps Rock Stars Michael Jordan Refractor (RS1)

Over the summer of 2020, the PSA 10 Rock Star Jordan Refractor was selling for around $2,500, but then in October one sold for $4,750. The two October 2019 sales both came in almost right at $1,000, so this card is up around 4x in a year.

Regardless of whether you own, or are interested in owning, the Jordan Rock Star card, it looks like one that is trending up with collectors (as are practically all Jordan cards). With the recent sale pops for both the refractor and non-refractor card, it looks like 2021 may be a great year for this top graded die-cut card from Topps.

RS6: Anfernee Hardaway

I’m skipping over Jerry Stackhouse, Chris Webber, Charles Barkley, and Dennis Rodman to arrive at Penny Hardaway, who seems to be one of the more popular cards in this set, at least if we go by the number of graded cards listed on PSAs website. The Penny Rock Star non-refractor card only has 7 graded PSA copies, while there are 15 graded refractor cards

With such scarce data, its rather difficult to pick out any sort of trends – but lets take a look at what’s out there for the Penny Hardaway Rock Stars cards. There is very little out there on the PSA site to give any hints what the present day price would be for either the non-refractor or the refractor card. The most recent sales for non-refractor PSA 10 graded card came back in the summer of 2018, when the card was selling in the $15-$25 range.

1997 Topps Rock Stars Penny Hardaway Refractor (RS6)
1997 Topps Rock Stars Penny Hardaway Refractor (RS6)

When looking at the refractor PSA 10 card, there was one sale back in August 2019 that went for $127. There was also a PSA 9 refractor that sold in October 2020 and fetched a cool $100 even. I’m guessing a perfect PSA 10 refractor today would go for closer to $250+ today.

RS12: Kevin Garnett

We have to skip (in order of appearance) Juwan Howard, Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton, Dikembe Mutombo, and the legendary Tom Gugliotta before we reach the next player in the top five most graded cards in this set, Mr. “Anything is Possible” himself, Kevin Garnett.

There is slightly more data available on the PSA site for the KG cards, but we are still working with only a handful of graded cards. The non-refractor card has 13 graded cards listed on the PSA site and the refractor card has 24.

Interestingly, two PSA 10 non refractor cards sold on July 30th, 2020 and they both sold for roughly $45. But within a month, a PSA 8 sold for just over $75. So who knows where a PSA 10 would sell today. My best guess is at least $150.

1997 Topps Rock Stars Kevin Garnett Refractor (RS12)
1997 Topps Rock Stars Kevin Garnett Refractor (RS12)

There are only two sales of a Gem Mint PSA 10 Garnett refractor card, and they both occurred in summer, 2020. The first sold in mid June, and went for $275. The other sold in the beginning of September and sold for $197.50. Two data points is far too many to try to spot a trend, but in case you were thinking that the Garnett refractor card is trending down, there was one sale of a PSA 9 that sold in December 2020 and went for $111, which tells me the PSA 10s should be at least going for at least $275+.

RS13: Shaquille O’Neal

Next card on the Rock Star list is also in the top 5 on my list, one of my all time favorite players both on and off the court, Shaquille O’Neal. The Shaq Rock Star card is the second most graded card in this set, with over 20 graded copies of both the refractor and non-refractor card.

Its an interesting and somewhat funny image of Shaq calling for the ball in the low post. The photographer caught a strange facial expression and the way the card is cut, it lops off Shaq’s right hand. Needless to say, I’m not wild about the image and wish they’d chosen something else.

However, this card looks to be popular with collectors in general. The non-refractor PSA 10s have been selling steadily above $75. Back in January 2020 a PSA 10 sold for just $13, but since then the Gem Mint PSA 10s have sold for $183, $69, $85, and the most recent sale was on 2/4/2021 with a selling price of $145.

1997 Topps Rock Stars Shaquille O'Neal Refractor (RS13)
1997 Topps Rock Stars Shaquille O’Neal Refractor (RS13)

The top graded Shaq refractor cards look to be selling roughly 4x higher than the non-refractor cards, with the most recent sale of a refractor card coming on New Years, 2021 and going for $625. The two prior sales of the PSA 10 refractors were in August (selling for $276) and November (selling for just shy of $400). There is a massive gap in the PSA data between November, 2017 and April 2020 so we can’t get a good read of what the PSA 10 Shaq refractor was selling for just before Covid, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in the $50-$100 range.

RS20: Scottie Pippen

Skipping past Hackeem Olajuwon, Grant Hill, Karl Malone, Damon Stoudamire, Shawn Kemp, and Alonzo Mourning we finally arrive at the last player on the Rock Stars roster, Scottie Pippen. Pippen has 13 non-refractor cards graded and listed on PSA’s site, and 23 graded refractors. Among the 23 graded refractors, 8 are PSA 10s, 13 are PSA 9s, and the other two are an 8 or lower.

The data looks pretty strange when only looking at the top graded non-refractor card. There were two sales, both in April 2020, and both within a few days of each other. The first one sold on 4/20/2020 and went for $150, the other sold on the 22nd and went for only $50. Maybe the person was smoking something pretty good when he purchased the $150 non-refractor PSA 10 Pippen card – or maybe he was just a huge fan with some money to burn – or maybe they thought they were bidding on the refractor card. So many questions!

1997 Topps Rock Stars Scottie Pippen Refractor (RS20)
1997 Topps Rock Stars Scottie Pippen Refractor (RS20)

Speaking of the Pippen Rock Star Refractor, the top graded cards have slightly more data but the data quality still leaves me with more questions than answers. The most recent PSA 10 refractor card sold on July 1st, 2020 and went for $152.50. That’s all well and good, it looks like its about 3x is we peg the non-refractor around $50. However, a few weeks before the PSA 10 sold, there was a PSA 9 that sold for $161.50. What gives? I won’t try and make sense of it – this is just madness.

In any case, if I try and look back to see how the Pippen Rock Star Refractor is trending, it does look to be trending up (as is every sports card these days), but I’d say this card is either severely underperforming the sports card market, or is ripe for the picking and able to be had at a massive discount. You decide.

But back to my ‘trend analysis’, this PSA 10 Pippen was selling back in early 2018 for $67, so it has more than doubled but is not keeping pace with the overall market. However, if you like Scottie and like the looks of these die-cut Rock Star cards, this could be a great addition to your Pippen stack. Maybe just go for the ungraded cards, since you can probably keep the cost below $100.

On a side note, I was bidding on a non-graded Dennis Rodman refractor card just the other day thinking I’d get this card for next to nothing, however it sold for $102 on February 9, 2021. I did the exact same thing with the Penny Hardaway refractor, but that one only sold for $41. People may be starting to take notice of these cool looking cards with refractor options, but certain players will be easy to pick up for a discount.

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