Building The 1986 Fleer Basketball Set: A Collector’s Guide

Updated Sep 30, 2023

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One of my collecting buddies and I were recently discussing his quest to build a 1986 Fleer Basketball set.

Something that is not an easy feat, especially with the significant increase in values across the board on 86 Fleer Basketball cards.

While Jordan rookies have experienced a bit of a dip of late, I think all collectors could use a few tips in piecing together the set.  

Thus, here is his guide for collectors looking to build the 1986 Fleer set.  

Have anything you might add to the discussion?

Feel free to add any comments below!

My Eight Tips To Building A 1986 Fleer Basketball Set

I just got back into collecting and have always wanted to complete this set.

It has taken me about six months and I am really close to completing a graded 1986 Fleer set.

While some of these tips are probably obvious to most, it was also a learning experience for me.

Maybe these thoughts are helpful, at least from a financial perspective.

1.  Be Patient. 

I know I have overpaid for a few cards. When I make purchases, I try to consider if I would I still happy if there was a 25% market correction. It keeps me from making impulse buys or getting into bidding wars.

And I haven't timed it all perfectly. There has been a significant drop in values over the last few months especially on Jordan rookie cards. I wish I had waited on some, but overall, the balance between buying some at a discount and some at a premium has helped dampen the softness in pricing of late. 


Prices on PSA 8 Jordan rookies have fallen hard since peaking back in early 2021.

2. "Watch" A Lot Of Cards On eBay.

If you're not familiar with how eBay works, once you are logged into your account, you can 'Watch' a card. This will allow eBay to communicate any updates on the card in question and allow the seller to send any discounts to those watching the card. 

On a weekly basis, I search "86 Fleer Basketball cards" on eBay and watch anything that looks to be of interest to me, even if it priced above market value. This way, I can save the listing and the seller knows that I might have interest. 

You never know when a seller might reach out and provide you with a solid offer for a Buy It Now listing. Some sellers are more desperate than you might think.

3.  Message eBay Sellers Directly

I have messaged several eBay sellers directly and offered to buy lots.  I purchased thirty commons from a dealer with a retail location when I started. 

The dealers pulled the listings and everyone was happy; they saved fees, the hassle of shipping to multiple buyers, holding the inventory and I got a better deal.

You of course have to be careful and only buy from sellers with solid feedback.

The fact that the seller had a physical location with online reviews that were positive helped alleviate any fears of making such a large purchase. 


4.  Don't Be Afraid To Buy Doubles

For a few sales, I didn’t bicker about purchasing doubles of cards that I already had if the seller wanted to do one deal. I figured it was the cost of doing business.

I have traded the cards I already had towards ones I needed, while getting the average cost per card down substantially.

Sure the initial outlay of cash might be more than you want to spend, but if you're getting a good enough deal and can afford it, I say take in what you can. 

MICHAEL JORDAN 1986-87 Fleer #57 Rookie PSA 8 NM-MT Centered!

$4,300.00  (22 bids)
End Date: Monday Oct-09-2023 23:59:01 EDT


Michael Jordan 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card #57 Chicago Bulls

End Date: Monday Oct-09-2023 19:10:35 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $3,500.00
Buy It Now

5.  Don't Get Picky On The Slabs

I’m not locked into a specific age of the slab or grade, with the exception of being PSA 8 or higher and without qualifiers. I focus on finding the best card for the best value.

By buying a few lots (10 – 40 cards at a time) I was able to get 9s for the price of buying individual 8s.

My PSA 8 set has morphed into primarily an 8.5 and 9 set. Personally, I think 8.5s from a value perspective are overlooked as 8s or 9s are easier to find and are in higher demand.

6. Buy The Card, Not The Grade

I have a PSA 8.5 1986 Fleer Patrick Ewing rookie card that is far nicer than my PSA 9 version.

The PSA 9 cost me 3x as much. I also put a bid on a PSA 9 Isaiah Thomas rookie card the other day.

isiah thomas psa

 After I looked closer at the card, it was horribly off centered for the grade. 

Luckily, I got outbid.

7. Reach Out To Big Dealers

I have emailed companies like 4 Sharp Corners and Dave & Adam’s and threw out offers.

Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no. 

When they have said yes, shipping and tax has always been included, which saves me an additional 6% versus eBay.

8. Leverage Forums/Facebook

I have purchased a lot of cards on various collector forums and Facebook groups and have had virtually no issues with delivery, packaging, etc.

When mistakes have happened, they have all been resolved.

I hope this guide is helpful for anyone looking to build an 86 Fleer Basketball set.

1986 FLEER NBA Basketball Wax PACK CVT NM-MT 9 Graded Michael Jordan Rookie Year

End Date: Tuesday Oct-10-2023 21:10:35 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $1,800.00
Buy It Now

1986 FLEER NBA Basketball Wax PACK CVT NM-MT 8 Graded Michael Jordan Rookie Year

End Date: Tuesday Oct-10-2023 20:36:33 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $1,200.00
Buy It Now

MICHAEL JORDAN 1986-87 Fleer #57 Rookie PSA 8 NM-MT Centered!

$4,300.00  (22 bids)
End Date: Monday Oct-09-2023 23:59:01 EDT


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