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Top 3 most expensive NBA rookie cards

luka and zion

NBA rookie cards have made a comeback in recent years. Young stars in the league are making a name for themselves, hyping their rookie cards in the process, and pushing its price to astronomical value.

The value of rookie cards is mainly dependent on the player's availability, rarity, quality, and star potential. It is safe to say that rookie cards of young stars such as Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Zion Williamson could fetch a hefty sum given their potential of winning a couple of rings or MVP awards in the future. With that said, here are the top 3 most expensive rookie cards in history.

3. Kobe Bryant rookie card $1.79 million

According to ESPN, the "1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractors #138 Kobe Bryant Rookie Card -- BGS PRISTINE/Black Label 10" was sold for $1.79 million at an auction, setting a new record for the late Laker great rookie card value. After Bryant's passing, fans were quick to buy his memorabilia off the market. 

The Hall of Famer was a 5-time champion, a fierce competitor, and had a huge global fanbase. His credentials, together with his untimely passing and rarity of the card - only 2 were made in the whole world, pushed the demand and price up. 

2. Luka Doncic rookie card $4.6 million

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Doncic is only 22, but he made the All-NBA First Team twice. He is also a 2-time All-Star starter, a Euroleague champion, and a fan favorite based on jersey sales. It's not surprising his rookie card was sold for $4.6 million last March 2021. If he remains healthy and focused, he would likely end up in the NBA Hall of Fame. 

The Doncic rookie card is signed and the only one available worldwide. It was included in the 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Basketball box. As time goes by, expect the value of Luka's rookie card to increase its value. 

1. LeBron James rookie card $5.2 million

Had it not been for James, Doncic would have held the record for the most expensive rookie card ever. However, barely a month after Luka's rookie card set a record amount, LeBron's rookie card got sold for $5.2 million. 

The card is a 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection rookie patch autograph parallel, per Forbes. It also received high-quality marks from Beckett Grading Services. With James' career nearing its end, some collectors have begun buying off his memorabilia and items. In the future, collectors could sell them to make some handsome profits.

Collecting rookie cards elicit polarizing opinions. For true-blooded fans, some ultra-wealthy collectors rob them of the opportunity to own items from their idols. On the other hand, the ultra-wealthy realize the value of these cards early on. Investing big on rookie cards has its risks; if the player failed to live up to the hype, the value of his rookie card would also plummet. 

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