In the midst of the longest injury stretch of his 18-year NBA career, LeBron James still managed to rewrite the record books.
According to PWCC Marketplace, a signed ’03 James Exquisite Collection card sold for $5.2 million, setting the record for the highest price for a basketball card ever, knocking off the $4.6 million one-of-one 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Luka Doncic sold in March. LeBron’s rookie card also tied the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle – sold in January – for the most expensive trading card ever sold.
This was actually in the works for a while. The demand for rare cards, especially basketball right now, is just like the demand for fine art.Jesse Craig, The Action Network
A similar LeBron rookie card – one out of 23 manufactured – auctioned for $1.8 million last August. The card featured James’s signature and a patch from his jersey, described by the auction house as “the piece of memorabilia in mint condition.”
The jump of $3.4 million for what is essentially the same card speaks to how high of a demand there is on the market, especially regarding the 36-year-old Lakers superstar. That’s why PWCC’s director of business development believes LeBron’s most valuable basketball card is still waiting to be bought.
There are LeBron cards still out there; I would say, worth over $10 million. And let’s be clear: There are three Mantle PSA 10s that, whenever they transact, will break every record there is. But as a market, there are so many desirable cards that haven’t sold yet publicly.Jesse Craig, ESPN
Although trading card sales, in general, have been down recently, high-end sports cards are still setting records. In fact, twenty-three of the 24 most expensive sports trading cards have been sold in the last year and a half. With the price of LeBron James trading cards being on the rise, that number might even go up by the end of the year.