Last Updated On: June 7th, 2023
There is really no need for a background on MJ himself.
In sports card collecting, rookie cards have always been a hot commodity especially for the best players in particular — legends, up and coming stars, and hall of famers.
The greatest basketball player of all time only has three top tier rookies that are considered collectable, valuable, and undoubtedly investable. They are:
- 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card #57 (commonly referred to as the holy grail of basketball cards)
- 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker Rookie Card #8 (what this post is about)
- 1984 Star Michael Jordan Extended Rookie Card #101
Of the three listed, the Fleer Sticker Rookie is accessible to most of the market of buyers given it is not relatively out of reach at current prices, especially when targeting lower grade copies. The other two cards are best afforded by deep pocketed collectors or investors.
The thing about the Fleer Sticker is that it’s a brand name card — Fleer being a notable name in collecting for decades — that is affordable. The sticker, along with the Michael Jordan base rookie card #57, can be found in multiples when opening a 1986 Fleer basketball box. Even so, there really isn’t that many of them out there when you consider the global appeal of Michal Jordan.
From a sheer supply and demand perspective, Michael Jordan Rookie Card demand far exceeds the supply available to the market. As many fans of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls are just crossing into their mid-to-upper 30’s, they finally have disposable or investable cash to put towards cards they only dreamed of having at 16 years old.
Speaking of investable, the chart below shows us how the MJ sticker card peaked over $30,000 in PSA 9 grade, and has more than quintupled since 2017 even after pulling back aggressively. This market report delves into the current state of the wildly popular basketball card, and whether we plan to buy more, hold what we have, or sell expecting lower prices.
2023 updated status: TL;DR: the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker RC has finally found price stability after the parabolic rise in prices due to the pandemic. It remains a steady investment for the long term with a 17.35% compound annual growth rate since 2006.
Keep in mind that I am not a financial advisor or licensed to give actual investment advice in any way. This report is intended to be a research guide with relative price comparison to other cards in the market. Do your own due diligence!
How many 1986 Michael Jordan Sticker rookie cards are there?
For simplicity, we’ll look at the two major grading services for a picture of the current graded population of this card. Be sure to check out other neat Jordan Fleer Statistics for even more details around MJ cards and values.
Between PSA and BGS grading services, there have been a total of 24,941 Michael Jordan Sticker Rookies graded. Let’s break that down by each grading service and card grade (i.e. condition).
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker PSA Population Report
(as of 3/5/2023)
Total Graded PSA Count: 17,968
Total Gem Mint (grade 10): < 1%
Total Mint (grade 9): 11.32%
Total Near-Mint/Mint or Near-Mint/Mint+ (grades 8 & 8.5): 23.63%
Total NM-MT (8) to Gem Mint (10): 35.62%
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker BGS Population Report
(as of 3/5/2023)
Total Graded BGS Count: 6,973
Total Gem Mint or Pristine (grades 9.5 & 10) : < 1%
Total Mint (grade 9): 3.37%
Total Near-Mint/Mint or Near-Mint/Mint+ (grades 8 & 8.5): 22.32%
Total NM-MT (8) to Gem+ (10): 26.16%
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Price History Analysis
Before we look at the year by year performance of the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker rookie card since 2006, let’s first cry some tears by having a look at the Beckett price guide back in 1990, courtesy of Sports Card Dad on YouTube. You won’t believe how cheap they were selling! The video jumps to the relevant part, so be sure to check it out. Even Sports Card Dad was admittedly “chasing” the Jordan sticker in PSA 8 grade 🙂
Now that you’ve cried some tears, let’s have a look at the PSA 9 graded price history since it is more widely available and as a result sells more frequently.
PSA 9 Mint Condition Price History
|Date||Avg. Price of PSA 9||Notes|
|Current as of 3-5-2023||$3,900||Back to trend|
|March 2022||$5,500||Price drops like a rock after bubble pops|
|February 2021||$28,600||MJ cards go parabolic! 🚀|
|2015||$617||price recovery since crisis|
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker Price Performance Since 2016
2022 to current: down 29.09%
2021 to 2022: down 80.77%
2020 to 2021: up 1,409%
2019 to 2020: up 111.73%
2018 to 2019: up 34.99%
2017 to 2018: down 10.41%
2015 to 2017: up 19.93%
2006 to 2015: up 234.6%
How much would you earn if you invested in a mint 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker in 2006?
If you purchased one in 2006 for $263, it would be worth $3,900 in March of 2023. Cumulative price appreciation: 1,382.89%.
Compound annual growth rate: 17.35%
3, 5, & 10 year Price Forecast
If we apply a 17% compound annual growth rate on the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker in PSA 9 grade as we saw from 2006 till now, we can forecast the following price appreciation over a 3, 5, and 10 year timeframe.
17% annual growth model
If we apply a more conservative annual growth rate of 10% instead, this is the outcome.
10% annual growth model
How does the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker compare to other cards?
Just like when buying stocks, homes, or other assets in the same class, it’s a good idea to look at similar comparables (comps for short) in the marketplace to gauge the value of one asset versus another similar asset. This is our sanity check and will give us confidence in the future price performance we calculated above for the PSA 9 grade of the Michael Jordan Fleer Sticker Rookie. Obviously the real-time market decides how much something is worth at that moment in time, however markets tend to incorrectly price assets in shorter time frames (e.g. the card hit a high of more than $30,000 in 2021!).
One of the more obvious cases of mispricing includes a bubble. A market bubble is a condition where the price of an asset (e.g. a sports card, stock, art, bitcoin, etc.) soars to levels far beyond the norm due to insane demand. Normally 99.99 out of 100 times a parabolic move in price is followed by a bubble burst, where the price plummets once demand wanes and supply rushes in. The MJ sticker is not immune, as the price chart at the top of this article clearly depicts what a bubble burst looks like.
That aside, let’s look at a few comps to the Michael Jordan Fleer Sticker RC.
In our attempt to find comps, we found it difficult to compare other ‘stickers’ to this card (nothing similar exists), or even comparable Jordan rookie cards since there aren’t many to choose from. We’ll need to resort to picking a legend like Lebron James to compare to for a ballpark idea, as James is popular worldwide like Jordan. By choosing a card with high population numbers, we can view what the market is paying to see just how underpriced the Michael Jordan sticker is in comparison.
Many believe Lebron James is an all-time great, perhaps top 3, maybe even top 2 greatest of all time up there with Michael Jordan. I’m not going to debate whether Michael or Lebron is #1 (it’s Michael).
For starters, what’s fascinating is the vast amount of Lebron rookie cards on the market in comparison to Michael Jordan. Back in the 80’s, there were only a few brands of cards. In particular, we laid out the top 3 MJ rookies at the top of this article: Fleer RC; Fleer Sticker RC; and the Star XRC card.
Lebron James has a truckload of rookie cards that were produced by major card brands in 2003, and you can also include his 2002 Finest ‘XRC’. Here are a few examples to name a few, with the total number of PSA & BGS graded cards (approximate numbers here to illustrate the point):
2002 Finest XRC (including refractors): 1,723
2003 Finest RC (including refractors): 734
2003 Topps RC (including 1st edition and variants): 24,985
2003 Topps Chrome RC (including refractors): 19,591
2003 Topps Pristine RC (including variants, refractors, etc.): 4,737
2003 Bowman (including chrome, variants, refractors, etc.): 13,362
If we add all the additional products released by Fleer, Upper Deck, Flair, Topps, SP Authentic, etc. the total population (supply) of Lebron James rookie cards probably nears 200,000 or more between PSA and BGS alone.
Comparing the entire universe of Lebron rookie cards vs. MJ rookie cards tells us there is much more supply of LBJ cards (it’s likely 2 to 1, if not 3 to 1 ratio as compared with MJ). To put it plainly, it is much easier to get your hands on a Lebron James rookie card.
Just keep that point in mind, even as we set it aside and narrow in on a high quantity LBJ rookie to compare with our Jordan sticker RC to see how they differ in price.
As you can see above, the Lebron James Topps Chrome Rookie compares pretty closely in total count to the Jordan sticker. It’s also not the most sought after rookie, but definitely a popular one. There are around 20,000 Lebron Chrome rookies vs. almost 25,000 Jordan Stickers.
One thing of note is that the Jordan Sticker was known to have significant centering and surface level print issues. In the PSA report, 28% of the cards are labeled with a ‘Q’; cards designated with a “Qualifier” alongside their assigned grade means they have a significant enough flaw not to be considered true to the number grade assigned (e.g. a PSA 9 (OC) means it would usually be a PSA 9, however it’s so off-centered that it’s not a legit PSA 9).
“There are more than 5x as many MINT or GEM MINT Lebron James Topps Chrome rookies as there are Michael Jordan Rookie Stickers”– OnlyGreats.com
The Lebron Chrome RC is particularly easy to find in MINT or GEM MINT condition; over 72% of the available circulation is in PSA 9/10, or BGS 9/9.5/10 grades. Lebron’s Topps Chrome RC in MINT or GEM MINT condition amounts to 12,274 cards of 16,933 total PSA and BGS graded cards (not counting refractors or other parallels here).
If we look at just MINT and GEM MINT cards, there are only 2,422 Jordan Sticker rookies available in the market that are true to their grade (not ‘Qualified’ as mentioned above).
Did you notice the difference? There are more than 5x as many MINT or GEM MINT Lebron James Topps Chrome rookies as there are Michael Jordan Rookie Stickers.
The Jordan Sticker RC in PSA 9 is approaching $4,000 in value. The GEM MINT 10 PSA card is so scarce, that it is topping $40,000 in value. One could argue it should still continue to go up in value in relation to the Jordan Fleer RC of the same card set, but that’s a story for another day 🙂
Given the high price and scarcity of a PSA 10, the only card available to most of the market in the highest grade possible is clearly the PSA 9 — and again, there are actually just over 2,000 of these in PSA 9 grade (also only a little over 200 in a comparable BGS 9 grade).
So how much does the Lebron James PSA 9 (MINT) go for? As of March, 2023, it is topping $1,750 with regularity. The Lebron James PSA 10 is going for a whopping $6,000!
Let’s look at this in a more practical way.
If there were 10,000 Lebron James card collectors, almost every one of them can get a MINT or GEM MINT Lebron James Topps Chrome RC Card given there are over 12,000 of them in existence. This isn’t to say that perhaps 12,000 may be enough to meet demand, as clearly the prices on Lebron James rookies are on the rise between $1,700 for PSA 9 and $6,000 for PSA 10’s anyway.
How can Lebron James Chrome Rookie Cards in MINT and GEM MINT condition be soaring in value, with 5x as many in existence as there are Jordan Fleer RC Stickers? Simply put, the market has under-appreciated the Jordan Fleer RC Sticker thus far, although it’s finally getting some much deserved attention. The market has also arguably overpriced the Lebron James Chrome RC, but that’s another story for another day.
Continuing our practical scenario, if there were equally as many as 10,000 Michael Jordan card collectors, only one in every five can get their hands on a Jordan Sticker RC card in MINT or GEM MINT condition.
How about the other 4 out of every 5 Michael Jordan collectors that fell asleep and forgot to buy this card over the last 35 years? Well, they’ll have to pay a lot higher prices as they chase this card. Since most won’t be able to buy the PSA 9 as it runs away in price, they’ll go after the PSA 8’s, the PSA 7’s, the PSA 6’s, the BGS 8’s, (you get the idea)…
Conclusion (and Sleeper Picks)
The 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Sticker RC card is a clear cut winner for any serious collector or investor. While this report talks a lot about the PSA 9 given it’s easier for comparison and a MINT grade, almost any of the grades have done quite well as prices soar in the highest grades first.
When ESPN rolled out ‘The Last Dance‘ in 2020, the hype around the Bulls dynasty of the 90’s was enormous. It created a lot of interest in the Chicago Bulls, the Michael Jordan story, and really reminded fans far and wide of the greatness of Michael Jordan. The demand for MJ soared during this time, and the bubble we spoke about earlier was born.
Now that prices have come down to earth and back to trend, there are some great sleeper picks of the MJ sticker. I’ve been searching eBay looking at the BGS 8 (NEAR MINT/MINT), 8.5 (NM/MT+), 9 (MINT), and 9.5 (GEM MINT) graded Jordan Sticker cards. They’ve been neglected in favor of PSA graded versions, when in fact they’re graded tougher than the PSA versions as a percentage of the total graded (refer to the charts at the top of this article for the % breakdowns).
So what do we do from here? Basically if you’re buying the Jordan sticker here there is likelihood to see downside just as much there is to further upside. Over the long term, the fact remains the MJ sticker price has appreciated enormously over the last 15-20 years. It has proven to be a great card to own, and an even greater investment.
Follow the Only Greats blog by entering your email in the right rail of this post to receive future updates. And if you’re looking for slightly more affordable Jordan ‘Rookie’ cards that present another buying opportunity, be sure to read our Jordan Star Cards post.