Now that the NBA season is over, and Lebron James has walked away with a second straight title, I am curious to understand more of how his cards will perform with another ring on his hand. He still has a significant journey to catch Jordan, and even 3 more to catch Kobe, but many people already consider LBJ to be one of the most popular players of all time. This was arguably one of his best seasons, culminating with the best record in the NBA, and ANOTHER MVP award, its hard to argue that he isnt the best in the world right now. This championship is a good thing for basketball cards.
Regardless of his dominance, he is still an incredibly polarizing figure. His method of departure from Cleveland will forever haunt him, and his lack of public recognition for his teammates will weigh on his brand as a “me first” player. In the eyes of the hobby, Basketball is all about popularity, sometimes over skill and production. High end rules the roost, because like Lebron, its about how much collectors can show they have the best of the best. Cards like this logo from 2003-2004 Exquisite will forever be a testament of how much pull he has in this hobby.
All of that being said, because of his popularity, he will never have a problem being one of the most sought after players in the NBA. Even more ridiculous is there is not a single autographed licensed card of him in his Miami Heat jersey, as Upper Deck still owns the exclusive right to his signatures. Upper Deck has produced signed memorabilia after the signing with Miami, but no cards are going to be made for the foreseeable future. Since the exclusive NBA license resides with Panini, there have not been any available way to create cards in this manner. What. A. Shame.
They have made relic cards as they are available, but it just isnt the same.
I have long said that if Panini purchased the Upper Deck company and all of its intellectual and exclusive property, their products would be unstoppable. Right now Upper Deck continues to be a thorn in their side because they have Jordan and Lebron all to themselves, and there is no competition in that right. They are the biggest names in basketball, no matter how much Panini wants to argue that Kobe and Durant are of similar comparisons. They arent. Well, at least they arent when Panini is the ones producing the cards. Upper Deck is just the more popular brand, and as far as I am concerned, its their world and Panini is living in it.
Now that another championship is on the board, the question becomes whether or not James will be the first player in the Exquisite Era to showcase a talent even close to what Michael brought to the game. Kobe may be close in terms of championships, but his rookies are from so long ago that there are no apples to apples comparison. With LeBron having one of the most expensive cards ever made in his stead, im curious to see how high they can eventually sell for. They were over 10 grand at one point, but if he can win a couple more rings, will they be over 15?
No doubt that his cards will forever be a chase for any NBA collector, as his autographs are coveted by even casual fans. It remains to be seen if they will be more of a collectible in the future once his legacy is more solidified.