Back in the day, I used to not only collect basketball cards but also a few X-Men cards as well (yep, I was kind of a nerdy kid). One of the cooler aspects of the X-Men cards were the different scenes you could assemble from 9-card sets. Keeping the X-Men cards in a binder allowed you to flip through pages to see the various artistic images the designers dreamed up, like the scene below.
Basketball card collecting almost never has images span multiple cards, but there is one 3-card set from Skybox that showcases 10 of the 12 players from the 1992 Dream Team, and its an inexpensive trio of cards that I keep bidding on (and losing) but I’m committed to getting these cards at a good price (at or under $25).
The cards I’m talking about are the Skybox Team USA cards 1-3, and are numbered 544-546 in the 1991 Skybox set. This three card set is unique, because it is one of the only basketball card trios I know of that forms a picture, as you can see below.
I think that image looks fantastic and I can’t wait to add these three cards to my collection. My only issue with this set is the issue of how to slice them up – if I were designing these cards I would have tried to position players in a way that didn’t slice off Jordan’s arm or lop off the left side of Magic’s body. I suppose sacrifices had to be made, and at least no one’s head was split down the middle.
Team USA 1 – Skybox #544
The team USA 1 card (#544) features Chris Mullin, Charles Barkley, and David Robinson… as well as Jordan’s right arm and right foot. For this three card set, this is the least sought after, judging by the number of graded cards on PSA’s website. There are only 230 graded Team USA 1 cards, and more than half (144 of 230) received a GEM Mint PSA 10 grade.
The sales history for this top graded PSA 10 cards are a bit all over the place, but it looks to come in consistently above $100. Five of the six PSA 10 sales going back to October, 2020 have cleared the $100 mark, with the only sale under $100 coming in at $85.
Things get pretty interesting if we go back just one year, because this top graded PSA 10 card was selling in the $10-15 range back in the fall of 2019, so its up over 500% in just one years time.
Team USA 2 – Skybox #545
The team USA 2 card (#545) features Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Karl Malone, and most of Magic Johnson. For this three card set, this appears to be the most sought after card, judging by the number of graded cards on PSA’s website. There are 433 graded Team USA 2 cards, and nearly 75% of those (312 of 433) received a GEM Mint PSA 10 grade.
Although I have an issue with how Jordan and Magic were placed on this card – I’m not a fan of the severed limbs – I do appreciate how John Stockton and Karl Malone were positioned right next to each other.
The sales history for the Team USA 2 card are also a bit all over the place, but this card seems to be recently climbing in popularity with collectors. The two most recent PSA 10 sales have topped $200, with one card going for $242 on 2/17/2021, and a day later a PSA 10 sold for $292. In January 2021, this top graded card was selling for around $100.
Going back to Fall, 2019 this top graded card was consistently going for around $30. If this card is able to maintain a sales price at around $250, it have popped by over 700% in a little over a year. I’d expect all three of these cards to roughly move together, because its an inexpensive set to complete and my guess is that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. There may be some card arbitrage out there for those savvy card flippers.
Team USA 3 – Skybox #546
The team USA 3 card (#546) features the left side of Magic, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird, and Scottie Pippen. This card appears to be slightly more sought after than the Team USA 1 card, but certainly not as popular as the Team USA 2 card. There are 269 graded Team USA 3 cards, and over 70% of those (195 of 269) received a GEM Mint PSA 10 grade.
The sales history for the Team USA 3 card is scarce and like the other two cards, its difficult to make sense of it. Since November 2020, there have been five PSA 10 sales: two sold above $100 ($114 and $125), the November sale went for $72, a late December sale went for only $55, and the most recent sale occurred in January 2021 and sold for $10. I’m fairly confident the $10 sale in January 2021 was a mistake in cataloging the data on PSA’s site – but if not someone got a great deal! I think its safe to assume this top graded PSA 10 card should sell for at least $100.
PSA 10 3-card Team USA Set
The math here is pretty simple, the top graded Team USA card 1 sells for around $100, card 2 goes for approximately $200, and card 3 also goes for around $100. However, as I was searching around on the PSA site, it looked like there were a few instances of the top graded set going for $750, perhaps even higher.
I wanted to sanity check this figure with what the set was selling for on eBay, and I came across this listing, offering the top graded set at a Buy It Now price of $2,000. Seems to me like there is a great opportunity for card flippers to possibly buy these ungraded cards for cheap, send them in to be graded, and possibly take a $75 investment and, assuming you get lucky with the grades, flip that into $500+.
Right now, the ungraded cards sell for roughly $5-$10 each on eBay. If you buy the ungraded 3-card Team USA set, you’re likely going to be paying in the $25-$35 range (here is a $32 set with free shipping). Still, even if you aren’t looking to flip these cards, I think they make up a really cool set with perhaps the best Olympic Men’s basketball team ever created. This set is also unique given the 3-card panoramic nature. I don’t know of any others like it and the more I write about it, the more I’ve been bidding on this set on eBay.
I don’t think collectors and investors will ever go wrong with Jordan, Bird, and Magic. And having those three legends together in this set, with seven other members of the Dream Team just gets me really excited to own this beautiful Team USA set.