April 13

Michael Jordan Star Cards: A Closer Look at Beckett Pop Reports

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Over at All Vintage Cards, I've discussed at length how the Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer Rookie card isn't necessarily all that rare.

Star cards overall were produced in lower quantities (averages of around 5,000 sets of each, some lower, some higher) than the 86 Fleer set, yet of course there are more  Star Jordan cards (25 in total) to go around.  

In this guide, I take a look at the various population reports for each Jordan Star card to try and figure out which one is actually the rarest and if the Jordan Star population compares to the stated population from Star's initial hobby release estimates. 

While there were some early companies aside from Beckett to grade Star cards -- even PSA had a very brief stint in grading Star cards -- we are only using Beckett's population reports here, only because they have the most data and have been doing it the longest.  For example, PSA has graded 13 1984-85 Star Michael Jordan #101 XRC cards--not really enough to make a difference.  

So while this isn't an exact science it will at least provide a good comparison point for each of Jordan's Star cards.   Here's a table with all of the updated (as of 4/12/2021) Jordan Star cards that have been graded by Beckett (BGS).

So let's dive into some of the details here.  

What Star Jordan Card Has The Highest Graded Population?


An authentic #101 XRC Jordan

The Beckett pop reports tell us that the most graded Star card has been Jordan's 1984-85 Star XRC #101 Rookie Card.  This makes sense, as it is Jordan's most valuable Star card and would expect it to get submitted for more grading.  There was an estimated production run of roughly 3000 or more Star sets in the 1984-85 Star issue, although note Basketball Gold states that Levin noted 4,000 Jordan cards were produced.  

Thus if we go with the 4,000 guesstimate on the 84-85 Star Jordan card, Beckett has graded 939 copies or nearly 25% of the initial number of cards released to the public.  Note this omits any other graded copies outside of Beckett, any Jordan's still in an unsealed bag and any raw copies that are floating around out there.  

Does a 25% number make sense?  To me, not really, I'd guess that that 4,000 number is probably higher--25% of the initial release graded seems like a high number to me.  But maybe not all that higher.

Let's however not forget that this still pales in comparison to Jordan's 1986 Fleer issue, which is typically recognized as his rookie card.  Between Beckett, PSA and SGC, Jordan's rookie has been graded over 35,000 times, roughly 35x that of the Jordan Star #101 XRC card

What's The Rarest Star Jordan Card?

Well, we can see that the number with the lowest number of graded copies is Jordan's Best of The Best card, however I'll throw that card out, since Beckett stopped grading cards from that set

Thus, if we look at the next lowest graded population, the rarest Star Jordan card is the 1985 Star Crunch N Munch All-Star Jordan card.  It does make sense, since the 1985 Crunch N Munch All-Star set had one of the lowest production runs of any Star set.   Beckett has graded only 352 copies of Jordan's Star Crunch N Munch card.


An authentic Crunch Munch Jordan

The second rarest Star Jordan card (based on Beckett's pop reports) is the 1984-85 Star Court Kings 5x7 #26 Oversized card.  Beckett has graded only 401 copies and the card is definitely tougher to find in higher grade with only 22% earning a 9 or better.  


Which Star Jordan Is The Toughest To Find In High Grade?

That award easily goes to the 1984-85 Star Jordan Olympic Team Card #195.  Only 2 copies out of 776 (.3%) graded by Beckett have earned a 9 (none have earned a 9.5).   So why so hard to earn a high grade?


The polybag from the 1984-85 Star set that contains both the Olympic subset and the Awards/Record/Leaders has the #195 Jordan on top and the #288 Jordan Rookie of The Year card on the bottom. 


Thus, the card on the outside of the bag is certainly more prone to corner/border damage, especially with a red card.  The #195 Jordan card as shown above was notable for coming off the presses off-center left to right (similar to the #101).

The second hardest to find Star Jordan card in high grade is (no surprise) the #288 Jordan Rookie of The Year, which is on the bottom of the polybag. The blue borders are easily prone to damage and one wrong move can make a perfectly blue sharp corner go white.  The #288 Jordan also had centering issues left to right, as shown below.


An authentic Jordan Star ROY #288

The third hardest to find in high grade is the 84-85 Star Jordan #101, which as you may know was issued off-center (see image above) and thus only 7.6% of Jordan Star #101 cards earned a 9 or better from Beckett Grading.  Also, the #101 card was also issued as the first card in the Bulls polybag from the 84-85 Star set.  

Which Star Jordan Is The Easiest To Find In High Grade?

I'm ignoring Jordan's Best of The Best card again, just because well, I don't really have a lot of respect for that card.  Notably it would have been the winner here, but let's look to the next one up.

The Star Jordan that is the easiest to find in High grade is the 1985-86 Star Jordan #117 -- Jordan's second year card from Star.  It has been graded 539 times with a whopping 73% of those cards receiving a 9 or better from Beckett. 

Why such good grades?  Mostly, due to the fact that the Jordan #117 Star card wasn't plagued with the same centering issues that many other Star Jordan cards had.   The polybag for the 85-86 Star Jordan #117 is also a bit smaller than the previous year's issue, making it a lot less likely to move around and cause border damage. 


An authentic Star 1985-86 Jordan #117 Second year card.

1984-85 Star Jordan #101 Cards on eBay


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