1986-fleer-most-valuable

Top 20 Most Valuable 1986 Fleer Basketball Cards

Jordan's RC gets all the attention, but the 1986 Fleer Basketball set is loaded with valuable rookie cards.

Updated Sep 29, 2023

All Vintage Cards content is free. When you purchase through referral links on our site, we earn a commission. Learn more

The 1986 Fleer Basketball set is one of the most iconic basketball card issues ever.

It was issued at a time when basketball was finally getting its due in terms of fan support. Driven by the continued dominance of the likes of new players such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and, of course, the legend himself, Michael Jordan.

The set was small in number (132 base basketball cards plus 11 stickers) but loaded with big-time rookie cards, including the iconic rookie card of Michael Jordan.

The cards themselves aren't necessarily rare. However, gem-mint (PSA 10) copies are a challenge due to the propensity of easy damage to the red borders of the cards and common centering issues.

In this piece, we will provide a look at the top twenty most valuable cards in the 1986 Fleer Basketball card set. 

More...

The Top 20 Most Valuable Basketball Cards In The Set

1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card #57

  • PSA 10 Value: $160,000
  • PSA 10 Population: 320
jordan-psa-9

Easily the most iconic basketball card issued during the 1980s, maybe of all time.

The 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie card experienced a bubble of epic proportions during the pandemic, partially derived from the Last Dance documentary. 

However, Jordan's rookie card values have fallen back to earth in recent months.

Still, it trades well above pre-pandemic highs, owing to the huge demand from collectors. I doubt the card will reach the peak value from 2021 anytime soon, but higher-grade copies will likely be a solid investment over the long term.

As shown below, PSA 10 copies of Jordan's rookie card peaked at $738,000 in early 2021, with recent auction sales netting only an average of $160,000, a decline in value of nearly 80%!

1986fleerjordanpsa10

The good news for anyone shopping for a Jordan rookie card is that lower grade Jordan rookies are much more affordable.

Even a PSA 7 copy, which peaked at $20K in 2021, has come back to earth, with recent auction sales averaging $5K.

However, be wary of counterfeits - the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie is the most counterfeited card in the hobby

1986 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie Card #7

  • PSA 10 Value: $6,500
  • PSA 10 Population: 240
barkley-rookie

Charles Barkley, aka 'The Round Mound Of Rebound' made an immediate impression with the 76ers, reaching the Eastern Conference finals as a rookie. 

Drafted only two spots behind Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft, Barkley would go on to become one of the most colorful and impressive scorers and rebounders in the league.

Today, most fans know of Charles Barkley for his entertaining commentary as a part of the Inside The NBA team with TNT, alongside Shaquille O'Neal.

Barkley's 1986 Fleer rookie card is one of the most prized basketball cards in the set. Like the Jordan rookie card, PSA 10 copies of the Barkley rookie surged to bubble territory in 2021, reaching a high of $25K. 

Today, PSA 10 copies average $6500 at recent sales via auction, however, ungraded copies often sell for closer to $100, even in excellent condition

1986 Fleer Karl Malone Rookie Card #68

  • PSA 10 Value: $3,500
  • PSA 10 Population: 223
karl-malone-rc

Karl Malone, aka "The Mailman," is celebrated as one of the NBA's premier power forwards.

He clinched two MVP awards and was honored as an NBA All-Star 14 times. In tandem with point guard John Stockton, Malone created one of the league's most memorable duos, mastering the pick-and-roll play. 

Malone's 1986 Fleer rookie card is one of the most valuable in the set and was issued a year after his selection by the Jazz in the 1985 NBA Draft. Malone, picked at #13 was the biggest steal in the draft. 

Like every other big name rookie card in the set, PSA 10 copies of Malone's rookie card have fallen significantly of late.

Recent auction sales have been about $3500, a far cry from the peak of $15,500 in early 2021.

1986 Fleer Akeem Olajuwon Rookie Card #82

  • PSA 10 Value: $5,100
  • PSA 10 Population: 340
olajuwon-rc

Akeem "The Dream", Olajuwon, who later changed his name to Hakeem was easily one of the most dominant big men of his era and a key to turning around the Houston Rockets franchise.

Olajuwon was a dominant force on offense and defense and is the only center to rank in the top ten for all-time steals. 

Even Michael Jordan said that if he had to name an all-time team, Olajuwon would be his choice at center, topping the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. 

The Akeem Olajuwon 1986 Fleer card is one of the premier rookie basketball cards in the set. With only 340 PSA 10 graded copies, a Gem-Mint copy will run you over $5,000.

Thankfully, raw, ungraded copies are easily available for around $100 or higher in very good to excellent condition. 

1986 Fleer Patrick Ewing Rookie Card #32

  • PSA 10 Value: $5,100
  • PSA 10 Population: 160
ewing-rc

Patrick Ewing remains one of the best all around big men to ever grace the court for the New York Knicks. 

Ewing's 1986 Fleer rookie card has a lower PSA 10 graded population than the other top tier rookies (aside from Jordan) in the set, like Charles Barkley, Akeem Olajuwon and Karl Malone. 

A PSA 10 copy of Ewing's Fleer rookie card has averaged $5100 at auction, however, low graded copies or ungraded copies in excellent condition are available for $100 or more. 

1986 Fleer Dominique Wilkins Rookie Card #121

  • PSA 10 Value: $9,000
  • PSA 10 Population: 93
wilkins-fleer-rookie

Dominique Wilkins was one of the NBA's leading scorers during his 11 year stint with the Atlanta Hawks and other short stays with the Celtics, Clippers, Magic and Spurs.

The 'Human Highlight Film' was probably best known for his slam dunks and he was a fixture at the NBA Dunk Contest, winning the award in 1985 and 1990, competing many years against Michael Jordan. 

Of all the top tier rookie cards in the 1986 Fleer basketball set, the Wilkins rookie card has the lowest PSA 10 population.

This is due to the lower number of overall cards submitted to PSA for grading.

PSA 10 Gem-Mint copies of the Dominique Wilkins 1986 Fleer rookie card have averaged $9,000 at auction of late.

During the height of the card bubble in 2021, this card sold for over $23,000. Thus, like all other big cards in the set, the Wilkins rookie has corrected significantly. 

1986 Fleer Isiah Thomas Rookie Card #109

  • PSA 10 Value: $4,000
  • PSA 10 Population: 196
thomas-fleer-rookie

The Isiah Thomas Rookie Card from the 1986 Fleer Basketball set can be considered one of the tier B rookie cards.  I only say this since averaging selling prices are slightly below those of Jordan, Barkley, Olajuwon, Malone, Wilkins and Ewing.

Still, the Thomas rookie card is highly desired among hobbyists. Currently, a PSA 10 copy will set you back about $4,000, which is well below the peak reached in 2021 of $6,600. 

1986 Fleer Isiah PSA

Isiah Thomas PSA 10 Rookie Card Values Over Time

1986 Fleer Larry Bird #9

  • PSA 10 Value: $4,000
  • PSA 10 Population: 121
larry-bird-86-fleer

The Larry Bird and Magic Johnson cards from the base 1986 Fleer basketball set are the most valuable non-rookie cards in the set. 

Larry Legend was my favorite player growing up. He was never the most athletic player on the court. But his hustle and determination to compete are what made him a better player.

Bird was a three-time MVP, a three-time NBA champion, and a 12-time NBA All Star Game nominee. 

Bird's #9 card in the set is fairly affordable in ungraded condition or even lower to mid grade copies.

Currently, many ungraded copies on eBay are sold at under $100 in Excellent condition or better. 

1986 Fleer Magic Johnson #53

  • PSA 10 Value: $4,000
  • PSA 10 Population: 189
magic-86-fleer

The Magic Johnson card from the 1986 Fleer basketball set is one of my favorites, as it showcases Magic in his prime, taking on Kevin McHale of the Celtics. 

PSA 10 copies sell for around $4,000, well off the COVID peaks, but even lower-grade copies are affordable for collectors

1986 Fleer Clyde Drexler  Rookie Card #26

  • PSA 10 Value: $2,000
  • PSA 10 Population: 354
clyde-drexler-psa-10

Clyde 'The Glide' was one of my favorite players growing up. His moves were so effortless and he was a tremendous scorer.

Drexler was considered one of the best in the game, but never got the same attention as the more popular players like Jordan, Bird, Magic, or Barkley. Much of this had to do with the fact that he played for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Drexler's 1986 Fleer Rookie card isn't as pricey as the Top Tier rookies from the set, but PSA 10 copies still sell for around $2,000.

1986 Fleer Chris Mullin  Rookie Card #77

  • PSA 10 Value: $2,000
  • PSA 10 Population: 109
  • mullin-rookie-card

    Like Drexler, Mullin was one of the more prolific scorers during his playing days, but injuries caught up to him, limiting the longevity of his career. 

    But, during his prime, Mullin and the combination of Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond (known collectively at Run TMC) were a force to be reckoned with. 

    Mullin's 1986 Fleer rookie card is not quite Tier A among rookie cards in the set, but a PSA 10 copy goes for about $2,000. 

    For collectors looking to find a more affordable option, PSA 8 copies sell for under $100

    1986 Fleer James Worthy  Rookie Card #131

    • PSA 10 Value: $2,000
    • PSA 10 Population: 134
    worthy-rookie-card

    He was a key player during the LA Lakers dynasty during the 1980s.

    Worthy's rookie card is at about the same price point as Chris Mullin, with PSA 10 copies averaging about $2K at auction.

    However, mid-grade copies are much more affordable, with PSA 8 (Near Mint/Mint) copies selling for around $75

    1986 Fleer Julius Erving  #31

    • PSA 10 Value: $1,200
    • PSA 10 Population: 170
    erving-86-fleer

    Outside of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Dr. J's #31 card from the 1986 Fleer set is the only other non-rookie card that made this list. 

    The card shows Julius Erving dunking on the Lakers Michael Cooper. A great shot.

    PSA 10 copies have fallen to around $1200 at auction, but ungraded copies are easily found for under $40.  

    1986 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan Rookie Card #8

    • PSA 10 Value: $50,000
    • PSA 10 Population: 123
    fleer-jordan-sticker-rookie

    Sticker cards were issued one per pack of each 1986 Fleer basketball wax pack. The 11 stickers in the set are generally harder to find, due to the more limited issuance.

    In addition, the stickers are plagued by gum stains on the backs or fronts of the cards. However, many say that the wax can be removed with nylon pantyhose!

    The Jordan Fleer Sticker rookie card is the most valuable sticker and the second most valuable card in the 1986 Fleer basketball card set, after the Jordan base rookie card.

    The Jordan Fleer sticker soared to insane prices amid the pandemic but has recently returned to earth.

    Today, Jordan Fleer stickers in Gem-Mint PSA 10 grade sell for around $50K, a far cry from the $235K peak reached in early 2021.

    Be careful as the Jordan sticker rookie is a highly counterfeited card.

    fleer-jordan-sticker-prices-psa-10

    Historic Pricing of 1986 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan in PSA 10 grade


    1986 Fleer Sticker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #1

    • PSA 10 Value: $20,000
    • PSA 10 Population: 14
    jabbar-sticker

    The Kareem sticker is the second most valuable sticker card in the 1986 Fleer set, which might surprise some. It all has to do with the scarcity of PSA 10 copies in population -only 14 as of this writing. 

    There was one epic sale of a PSA 10 in 2022 for $266,000 at a PWCC auction. That buyer likely overpaid by a wide margin, as I would expect today's figure to be closer to low to mid five figures. 

    1986 Fleer Sticker Dominique Wilkins Rookie Card #11

    • PSA 10 Value: $4,000
    • PSA 10 Population: 58
    wilkins-sticker-rookie

    Dominique's sticker rookie card is one of the most valuable sticker rookies in the set (after Michael Jordan).  Recent auction sales have hovered around $4,000 for PSA 10 copies. With only 58 gem-mint cards in circulation, some might view it as a reasonable value.

    1986 Fleer Sticker Akeem Olajuwon Rookie Card #9

    • PSA 10 Value: $4,500
    • PSA 10 Population: 58
    olajuwon-sticker-rc

    Olajuwon's sticker rookie cards is one of my favorites from the set. It features a young Akeem defending a shot from Magic Johnson. PSA 10 copies have been averaging about $4,000 at auction. Cheaper copies are widely available however, with ungraded sales near $100 at eBay

    1986 Fleer Sticker Patrick Ewing Rookie Card #6

    • PSA 10 Value: $2,800
    • PSA 10 Population: 77
    ewing-sticker-rc

    Patrick Ewing's sticker rookie card is a bit cheaper than the Dominique and Olajuwon sticker rookie, but the value isn't too far off. PSA 10 graded copies sell at auction for a little under $3,000. But cheaper, ungraded copies are widely sold at under $100

    1986 Fleer Sticker Larry Bird #2

    • PSA 10 Value: $6,500
    • PSA 10 Population: 40
    bird-sticker

    The Larry Bird and Magic Johnson stickers are the third and fourth most valuable Fleer basketball sticker cards in the set, behind Jordan and Kareem.

    A simple pose of Bird getting ready to drain a 3-pointer, but still a classic. Issued right around the time Bird and the Celtics had won the NBA championship in 1986.

    Graded, perfect Gem-Mint copies sell for nearly $6,500 at auction, although ungraded to lower grade copies are much more affordable

    1986 Fleer Sticker Magic Johnson #7

    • PSA 10 Value: $5,500
    • PSA 10 Population: 46
    magic-johnson-sticker

    I love this shot of Magic Johnson dribbling up the court in Lakers yellow with Kurt Rambis hovering in the background. This sticker card is favorite for collectors and Gem-Mint copies have surged to near $6,000 at auction. Lower grade copies, especially in Excellent condition (PSA 6) at only $50 are an excellent buy

    All Vintage Cards

    About the author

    Chris Rogers, is the founder of All Vintage Cards. Launched in 2018, All Vintage Cards is the hobby's leading resource for vintage sports cards. Chris is also the author of 'The Complete Guide To Selling Your Sports Cards'. Chris remains an avid collector and can be reached at chris@allvintagecards.com.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    1. The 1986-87 Fleer basketball is one of the best and most iconic sets of the modern era of basketball cards. So many great rookie cards but, are they truly rookie cards? The reason I ask this question is because many of the players that have rookie cards in this set had already been in the NBA for multiple seasons. Jordan was already in his third season along with guys like Charles Barkley, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Some of the the rookie cards featured players that had already been in the NBA for 5 years. Dallas' Mark Aguirre was the #1 draft pick in 1981 and his 86 Fleer card is considered to be a rookie card. It is not like other card sets didn't exist for the previous 5 years. All the players I spoke of previously all had rookie cards from the Star set. All of their star cards were from their rookie season. Yet Beckett lists their Star cards as XRC or Extended Rookie Cards and the 1986-87 Fleer counterpart as RC. Which does not really make sense because by definition the 1986-87 Fleer rookie cards pretty much fit the exact definition of an XRC. Typically an XRC is a card that is released after a players rookie year. The Topps Traded Baseball and Fleer Update Baseball were well known for their XRCs. So I ask all of you. Are the 1986-87 Fleer Basketball cards truly rookie cards? Which is the true Jordan rookie? Is it the 1986-87 Fleer or is it the 1984-85 Star? For me it will always be the 84-85 Star just because 1984 was the year Jordan was drafted and the year he played his first nba season. Not only that the Jordan Star rookie typically sells for 3 times the price of the 1986 Fleer card. If you wanna talk about valuable basketball rookies of the 80s then just take one look at the Star sets from 1982 – 1986 and their prices and you will see which cards are the true rookie cards

      1. Great point Maksim–I do love Star Basketball cards and all your comments are valid–i did start another sister site starbasketballcards.com just because I felt like Star cards didn’t really get the love they deserved.

    {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Looking To Sell Your Collection?