Dirk may have the trophy, but LeBron’s basketball cards command the cash


By Chris Olds | Basketball Editor | Commentary

This year’s NBA Finals have come and gone with a pair of stars getting plenty of attention — for what they did and didn’t do in the Finals.

This season saw LeBron James with his talents on South Beach — well at least for most of the season — while the Lone Star State’s main man was a guy who has played there under the radar for years in Dirk Nowitzki.

While one of these stars now has an NBA ring, comparing these two really isn’t even fair on cardboard as Dirk’s debut cards came in a time of a bit more overproduced stuff, while LeBron helped usher in a rather Exquisite era in basketball cards in his rookie season.

We all know who came out on top, but here’s a look at how they compare … in the cards and on the court.

Dirk: 3,486
It was a bit closer than we expected but it’s really not that close if you consider that Dirk has been around a lot longer. That should show you one part of the hobby divide here. Advantage: LeBron

LeBron: $385,287.50
Clearly, there’s one guy commanding hobby cash here and it’s not the Maverick. It’s the guy led by Maverick Carter. Advantage: LeBron

LeBron: 62
Dirk: 20
It’s no contest here when it comes to value, either. Dirk’s most-expensive RC is his 1998-99 SP Authentic card at just $60. LeBron’s Exquisite RC checked in at $12,000. Advantage: LeBron

LeBron: 976
Dirk: 109
While LeBron is an Upper Deck exclusive, Dirk has been largely nobody’s exclusive as he hadn’t signed a substantial amount of autos for a card company in some time when Panini signed a deal with him in 2009. While LeBron is pricey and a lot more in-demand, he’s also a LOT easier to find. Advantage: Dirk.

LeBron: 1,487
Dirk: 1,506
This one was a bit of a surprise as you’d think a high volume of cards would mean more cards for LeBron. Essentially, this is a draw but since memorabilia cards aren’t as popular as in the past to some collectors, we’ll go a different way. Advantage: LeBron.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Basketball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


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  1. Todd Gack 13 June, 2011 at 12:06

    Why can’t Beckett give Dallas their due? It feels like it’s the same deal with the Yankees in baseball. No matter what the outcome, whether it’s the Giants winning the W.S., the Phillies rise, or Verlander’s 2nd no-no, we’re always force-fed the Yankees because Beckett says everyone loves them, so it’s gospel. I live in FL, and nobody down here gives a rat’s rear end about LeBron and the Heat (or the Dolphins, Panthers or Marlins). All they have is bandwagon fans, and overblown, and under-delivered hype. Constantly you throw LeBron in our faces, all while degrading the “lack of collectibility of Dallas, Euro players, or whatever else” you see fit. Dallas is a huge market, much bigger than Miami. Dirk is a global star, and I’m sure in 2 weeks if you track the values of his sales and LeBron’s, you’ll notice Dirk’s have gone up, and LeBron’s have gone down. Not to mention the RC’s Dirk are featured on aren’t nearly as limited or flashy, so the values won’t be as inflated as LeBron’s. Dirk doesn’t have an Exquisite Patch AU RC numbered to 99, LeBron does. The basis behind this article is flat out ridiculous. Compare LeBron’s RC’s to Kobe, he’s still more valuable, but you’d be hard pressed to say he’s more collectable that Kobe. Fact is, LeBron runs his mouth, doesn’t back it up, and then bails when he’s got to face the music. Really classy of him to only shake Kidd’s hand, then head to the locker room before ALL of his teammates.

    And before someone claims that I’m an angry Cleveland fan, I’m not, I actually loathe Cleveland. I’m a Pistons fan, and a fan of the NBA. I watched Jordan’s run, the Lakers runs, the Bad Boys, Reggie Miller’s 8 pts in 11 seconds, Houston’s back-to-back titles and more.

  2. Jojo 13 June, 2011 at 12:19

    Whats the point of this article? You should be talking about top ten cards of Dirk to own or something

  3. chrisolds 13 June, 2011 at 12:55

    The basis is simple — Dirk’s a bargain and LeBron isn’t. However, it’s also comparing apples to oranges.

  4. Kevin 13 June, 2011 at 13:36

    The card values go to show what a player does isn’t as aimportent as what collectors think a player may do in the future.

    Dirk won the title, no doubt. Lebrons cards are higher because collectors are banking on him having a better overall career.

  5. jt 13 June, 2011 at 14:40

    I’m just curious how the values in beckett work. Let’s say a card is priced in beckett at $20.00 and on ebay or card shows the same card sells for $5.00, how is the value of the card still $20.00?

    From mod: The book value price range is where a majority of sales figures fall — a low and a high.

  6. XstreamINsanity 13 June, 2011 at 15:17

    If you ask me, this article should be removed or edited. Regardless if Dirk is a bargain or not, right now, the day after Dirk and the rest of the awesome Mavs win the title, putting up anything stating “Advantage LeBron” is like a slap in Dirk’s face, and the Mavs. Why not have the article say “You can own a champion’s RC for less than $100.” and then talk about their cardboard statistics. No need to compare them to anyone really. Dirk is, and even now, will still be underrated. There will be people out there saying this is the only championship they’re going to get and either the Heat or the Lakers will win it next year. The Mavs are not getting their due, and it’s making me sick.

  7. chrisolds 13 June, 2011 at 15:47

    The facts are the facts. Nowitzki is undervalued — and LeBron ushered in a completely new era of cards. The advantage aspect of the comparison is easily seen with the stats.

    Part of the intent of an item like this is for people to realize the divide between players and the change in cards — not to say “yay Mavs.”

  8. charles faires 13 June, 2011 at 16:27

    of course the media has to try and save face because miami was going to be the team of the decade,so they said. and they mite be a contender again in the near future, stop with this king james stuff he chocked, 2 teams 2 failer’s, he’s not worth all the hype, san antonio won 4 championship and of course the miedia fainted there worth. its politics

    From Olds: It ain’t here.

  9. andi nguyen 14 June, 2011 at 09:44

    I do not follow the becket price guide at all , I myself think what my collection is worth and I am sure that there is alot of collector out there that feel the same way.

  10. Kevin 14 June, 2011 at 09:49


    The media wasn’t hoping for James to win. They have been against him since the decision. Look at the headlines related to the title. There are as many about James losing as their are about the Mavs winning.

  11. Caleb Douthitt 14 June, 2011 at 14:02

    Of course this article is going to go to the debate about Beckett’s pricing.

    The debate is useless, Beckett is the only company that concentrates on specifically sports cards and sports memoribilia pricing. There price ranges are close and final sales fall in those ranges 80% of the time or more.

    I was rooting for the Mavs in the Finals myself, but the cold truth about the comparison of Dirk’s versus LeBron’s carboard is simple……..LeBron is marketed 200% better than Dirk has ever been or ever will be.

    There are still some high end Penny Hardaway cards that sell for more than Dirk’s high end stuff. The difference there is the marketing as well. You all remember Blackstreet and Lil’ Penny Nike commercials, and so do other collectors.

  12. Stefan 15 June, 2011 at 08:19

    Ummm if you read this article again you will see it is not about who is a better player or who deserved the trophy more. Its about who’s cards are more popular and worth more. And that is what becket is about. Its about value of cards, not stat central. If you want a lebron bashing party turn on espn. I am glad that the mavs won, they deserved it, but again lebron in a way come out on top, because you hear 4 times as much about what lebron didnt do than you hear about what the mavs did do. And when he wins his first champ. everyone will look back and remember when lebron lost it for the heat in 2011 and how far he has come to finally win it, not how the mavs took over the series and won it all. unfortunately thats what happens when you play a player like lebron and beat him because he didnt perform instead of beating him because your better than him. Congrats to the mavs for taking advantage of one of the biggest collapses in sports history!

  13. XstreamINsanity 15 June, 2011 at 12:30

    I understand that Beckett is about sports cards, it just rubbed me and I’m sure others the wrong way that there even needed to be a comparison there, especially one that seems to demean the Mavs in any way. Especially where it says “Essentially, this is a draw but since memorabilia cards aren’t as popular as in the past to some collectors, we’ll go a different way. Advantage: LeBron.” Why go a different way? Why can’t it be Advantage: Dirk? Dirk has some GU out there in boxes where you only get one GU in 160 packs. Come on now, I’d say that’s advantage Dirk. Also, it just rubbed me the wrong way that this had to be put out there the way it was less than 24 hours after the Mavs won the championship. Everyone would have been just as happy, or happier, to see an article with the top 10 most appealing and affordable Mavs cards. Really no reason to compare cardboard stats, especially to LeBron. Just my opinion.

  14. John 15 June, 2011 at 16:17

    @ JT

    EBAY isn’t GOD for determining a cards “value”. I’m tired of people using that argument well it’s selling for $5 on ebay………… What about the “card shops” or other places… ala shows and other factors…

    Ebay is a place to get a bargain… It’s called Beckett NOT Ebay.

  15. michael figueroa 21 February, 2012 at 20:35


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