Before a new group is named for enshrinement in Springfield, card collectors can get ahead of the game by watching the market for these NBA legends.
With the next class of Basketball Hall of Fame inductees set to be announced on May 16th, it’s time to keep a close eye on how the trading card market may respond now that it has potentially entered its “supercycle.” Observing the basketball card market leading up to the big announcement, as well as the months that follow, could provide some unique insight as to how the smart money will ultimately change hands.
Perhaps the market will dip heavily around Hall of Fame season thanks to the “sell the news” mentality we witnessed during the latter stages of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Perhaps investors will use that expectation to front-run potential dip buyers before sending the cards to new all-time highs and locking them away for the long term.
We may not be able to predict the future, but we can look at past evidence and investigate how rookie cards for three of this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame nominees have performed in recent months to get a sense of where the market may be going.
Celtics legend Paul Pierce gets his first crack at the Hall of Fame this year, and he’s a surefire bet not to need a second. The 2008 Finals MVP, a 10-time NBA All-Star, and No. 15 on the all-time scoring list, “The Truth” grew into a folk hero in Boston as part of the Big Three with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Let’s take a look at the value of Pierce’s PSA 10 Topps Chrome rookie card over time:
Over the past 3 months, this PSA 10 Topps Chrome – of which there are a mere 195 in existence – has increased in value by nearly 230%, rising from a price of $625 the day the 2021 season began to a current price of $2,050. Notably, the card’s latest $2,050 sale represents an 18% decrease from its all-time high of $2,500 which was set earlier this month two different times.
Whether this is the first sign of a larger dip in the Pierce market or just standard ebbs and flows is impossible to predict in the short term, but, on a longer timeline, it seems all but certain that a low-population card of such a generational talent (and personality) will remain highly sought-after for many years to come.
Olympic gold medalist, 11-time All-Star, and two-time NBA champion Chris Bosh will make his second attempt at the Hall after missing out in 2020. One of the most underrated players of his era, CB4 was forced into early retirement due to a blood clot issue.
A truly affable, well-liked player, he has extra-special support both in Miami, where his championships were won alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and across Canada, where he remains one of the most popular figures in the country’s basketball history thanks to his high-flying years with the Raptors.
Let’s take a look at the chart above. Since the beginning of the 2021 NBA season, Bosh’s PSA 10 Topps Chrome rookie cards (population 215) have risen in value by 192%, moving from a price of $220 to $846 after hitting an all-time high of $1,250 earlier this month.
With Bosh and Pierce’s cards both seeing a significant value dip after selling for record highs, collectors should follow whether or not their paths continue to align in the weeks and months ahead, especially if they both receive good news regarding the Hall of Fame. If one card’s value ends up lagging behind the other’s, observant investors may have an opportunity for a low-risk correlation play.
Already inducted into the Hall of Fame long, long ago as a player following a career that established him as one of the greatest of all time, 11-time (!) NBA champion Bill Russell has the rare opportunity to be elected to the Hall as a head coach as well. Not only did Russell win back-to-back championships leading the Boston Celtics as a player-coach, but did so as the first African-American coach in league history.
Tracking Russell’s rookie-card path is much more challenging due to the card’s rarity, with only 3 PSA 9s of his 1957 Topps rookie in existence and zero 10s. In all, only 712 of this card have been graded by PSA, with just 19% returning a grade of 7 or higher.
Over the past 3 months, Russell’s PSA 5, which has seen the most transactions recently, has appreciated by 114%. However, just as with Pierce and Bosh, Russell’s cards have receded heavily in value in recent weeks, dropping by some 33% to below $20,000 after setting an all-time-high of $30,000 at the beginning of March.
Looking at these three cases, it seems clear that the HOF rookie-card market is experiencing a pre-announcement dip. Whether prices continue to drop leading up to Hall of Fame season or take the same trajectory as Drew Brees’ cards did leading up to his retirement announcement is anybody’s guess here and now. However, when speaking of such iconic players, particularly in Russell’s case, there is very little doubt that on a long-term timeline, the card values of the top 2021 Hall of Fame nominees will continue to grow if the card market overall does the same.