If you’ve been collecting basketball cards for a while, or just recently started following the basketball card market, you know just how crazy things have been recently. There have been multiple million dollar card sales featuring some of the best players, like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Luka Doncic.
However, if you think basketball card collectors are just middle aged men looking to revive a hobby form their childhood during the Covid lockdown, guess again (but if you do think that, you’re probably correct at least 70% of the time).
There are at least a handful of past and present NBA players that are into collecting basketball cards, including some of the NBA’s best, like Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Check out the seven players listed below to see who collects and even get a peak at a few cards in their collections.
Kendrick Perkins, the retired center who won a title with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and who presently works for ESPN as an analyst, has flaunted a few cards from his personal collection a time or two on social media. Perkins has a strong collection of PSA slabs featuring some of the best modern players, like Zion Williamson, Luka ‘The Don’ Doncic, and Ja Morant.
Below is a TikTok Perkins posted back in 2020 showing off a small sample of his collection. At the end he includes a nice little plug for PSA, saying, “If it ain’t PSA, don’t bring it our way”. You gotta love Perk!
The former Celtic and two-time NBA Champion, Ray Allen looks to have recently gotten into the hobby. According to a Goldin Auctions tweet from March 3, 2021, Allen purchased a 2004-05 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Dual NBA Logo Autograph card that features both himself, and his former Bucks teammate Michael Redd.
The Logoman cards are hugely popular and command extremely high prices. The card Allen purchased features two NBA logos in the center of the card, and is autographed by both Allen and Redd.
Later that same day, Ken Goldin, the owner of Goldin Auctions, shared a few of the other Logoman cards Goldin was selling at the time. To date, there have been multiple million dollar and above Logoman sales.
I’d love to know what Allen paid for his Logoman card, if he has any intention of getting it graded, and how many other cards he owns that feature himself or other NBA legends.
Is basketball card collecting big in Greece, or did Giannis Antetokounmpo get into the hobby once he came over to play ball in the states? Whatever the case, the Bucks All-Star and two-time NBA MVP has one heck of a collection.
From the looks of his deleted TikTok video (below), it looks like his collection almost entirely consists of ungraded cards of himself, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s also explored acquiring cards featuring other players as well. I wonder if his older brother and teammate, Thanasis, also collects?
In a November 2021 press conference, Giannis whipped out a 2015 Panini Prizm Bobby Portis Light Blue Parallel rookie card. He talked about how his backup plan, if he ever goes broke, is to sell his cards.
According to ClutchPoints, those same ungraded Portis rookie cards jumped over 500% shortly after the Giannis press conference.
Kevin Durant, the 11 time All-Star and two-time NBA Champion, takes investing in sports cards to another level completely. Not only does he have one of the best cards in the hobby, but he also literally invests in sports cards as a category.
Durant, along with a few of his fellow investors (a group that includes Mark Cuban and Dwyane Wade) invested a cool $40 million into Goldin Auctions (for more on that deal, check out this Yahoo article). But that is just the tip of the iceberg for Durant’s very diversified investment portfolio.
But getting back to cardboard, Durant’s personal collection features some of the coolest cards you’ll ever see. Included in his collections is a one-of-a-kind dual autographed card feature Kobe Bryant and Durant himself.
According to a February, 2021 Boardroom tweet, the Immaculate Collection card (pictured above) was gifted to Durant by Panini America.
One interesting statistic that links Durant and Kobe: They are two of only three players in NBA history to have 150+ consecutive double-digit point nights in the playoffs. The third and final person to round out that list is Michael Jordan.
Giannis isn’t the only foreign born player on this list who has shown an interest in the basketball card market. In fact, Serge Ibaka, the Congolese-Spanish big man for the LA Clippers also dabbles (or at least has entertained the idea of dabbling) with basketball card collecting.
In Episode 6 of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Weekly Vee video, he sits down with Ibaka to discuss the basketball card industry and how card prices have been rocketing to the moon.
In the video, Vee talks about how a Paskal Siakam cards were up 80-times over the course of a year. In other words, had you put down around $1,250 in Siakam rookies in early 2019 you’d be looking at $100K worth of Siakam rookies by the time Vee posted the video in early 2020. And at that time the market was still a full year away from reaching all time highs, which it has since retreated from as I write this in June, 2021.
I’d love to know if Ibaka took Vee’s advice and if so what cards he ended up purchasing and if those cards paid off. It would also be interesting to see if any other past or present NBA player saw this video and decided to get into collecting.
On the same day I started this blog almost a year ago, an autographed Lebron James Exquisite Rookie Collection card (serial numbered 14 of 23) sold for $1.845 million dollars, which was the highest price ever paid for a basketball card.
On that day, Lebron responded to a SportsCenter tweet saying, “Guess who else has a couple of those exact ones [Lebron rookie cards] too”.
Almost a year later, a copy of that same card (unclear if it was also card 14 of 23) sold for $5.2 million, to reclaim the top spot as the most expensive basketball card ever sold. If Lebron owns a couple of those cards, he’s sitting on at least $10 million worth of his own rookie cards!
Knowing Lebron owns two (or more) of the most expensive basketball card ever sold, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has at least a few other cards in his personal collection.
I’d love to know if he has many more copies of cards featuring himself or if he’s diversified his collection and put together a stack of some of his NBA idols – my best guess would be he has at least a few cards featuring Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving.
This last one is more of a one-off, and wouldn’t really classify as a player that has a true card collection. However, even though LA Clippers shooting guard Terance Mann doesn’t appear to actively collect cards, he does keep one rookie card on him at all times as his good luck charm.
In the video below, Mann reveals a beat up 2006-07 Topps Rajon Rondo rookie card (#251) during a post game interview and explains the story behind why he always has it on him. Maybe he has since gotten more into the hobby… or at least purchased a few copies of his lucky Rondo rookie.
This handful of players can’t be the only current and former lot of NBA players that are into the hobby. Especially with all the recent money flowing into the hobby, I have to believe there are more players out there. If you know of any others please be sure to contact me directly or leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to update this list.
And I don’t know about you all, but it does make me feel like a bit less of a nerd to see some of the best NBA players of all-time collecting cardboard. It will be interesting to see if that speculative Goldin tweet turns out to be accurate, and if more NBA players and athletes in other sports continue investing (using that term loosely) in the sports card market.