Michael Jordan Insert Sale: How is This Even Possible?

Although Panini still creates the content of their products like its 2003, its pretty obvious the hobby has moved on from that era of collecting. No longer are jersey cards worth any money, and numbered inserts are definitely not worth any money, even with low production runs. Back in the 1990s, that wasn’t the case, as drastic overproduction of products led to some rare inserts being worth more money than ever, even more money with the lower numbered ones.

Donruss was the master of gaudy looking rare inserts, ones that collectors chase to this day. The more prestige the player has, the more sought after the rare inserts become. That doesn’t mean the lesser players don’t have appeal, crazy as it may seem, as low production scrub cards also carry huge price tags some times. This situation has never been more apparent than with a recent jaw dropping sale of this extremely rare Michael Jordan insert out of Fleer Metal Universe.

Because the regular base set was so over produced, and this card is numbered to a tiny 50 copies, its easy to see why this card carries value. However, I don’t understand why it carries THAT much value, especially when you consider that it is from a dead brand with a dead product. 1990s rare inserts have cult following among the collectors that chase scarce cards, and it is crazy how much people are willing to pay, especially for a card that if produced today would not be worth anything. I guess that is where my understanding has to stop, as it is definitely a matter of supply and demand. People go ape shit over these ridiculous looking cards, much in the same way that people lose their minds over ridiculous vintage clothes or cars.

Here are some other crazy examples:

1998 Emmitt Smith Donruss Crusade Red /25

1998 Brett Favre Donruss Crusade Red /25

1997-98 Michael Jordan Z-Force Super Rave /50

Another big example of this insert phenomenon goes back as early as the Brett Favre 1000 Stripe RC out of 1991 Wild Card Football. These cards were so utterly rare that even then it got huge money for the bigger guys. It entitled the collector to 1000 copies of the 1991 Favre rookie, and that is why it is exceedingly rare. Some of them were redeemed and destroyed, others are probably still in the unopened boxes. Regardless, they bring a crap load of money when they surface on eBay.

If two main lessons can be learned from this it is that 1) contrived/forced scarcity has ruined this phenomenon, and 2) its never going to go back to the way this was, so we shouldn’t try. Panini must not have gotten the memo on number two.

8 thoughts on “Michael Jordan Insert Sale: How is This Even Possible?

  1. Basketball is way more popular internationally than any other sport, at the professional level, it would seem. I would bet that a majority of these types of inserts are locked up in player collections either here in the US or overseas. With 2 major markets competing for these things, it doesn’t surprise me one bit the prices they’re getting. There aren’t videos of people in the US breaking $40k of Exquisite basketball at a time. Those vids are from fans overseas…..

  2. Inserts have ruined cards. Buy a pack of Topps and you get 3 or 4 crap cards that do nothing to help complete the set. I don’t care if a piece of jersey is on it, it only makes me feel sad that the jersey isn’t in a mancave somewhere.

    I wish they’d knock it off with the inserts, and give me back my gum.

  3. I sold my 1997-98 Skybox Michael Jordan Ruby #d/50 two years ago for $2900.00. Guess I should have waited a couple of years…….

    Brian is right. The reason these super star inserts sell for huge amounts is that few are on the market for sale. There are thousands (maybe hundreds) of these $1000 to $10,000 inserts put away in personal collections, many of which are not active collectors who have no idea what they have in their closet.

    I like to think today’s inserts should be worth more than the pennies they currently sell for on eBay. However, everything is supply and demand. The problem is we have more sellers and buyers.

    The hobby needs more collectors (the end of the food chain), people who keep what they open. With the overseas market and new collectors slowly joining the hobby, I see this hobby again approaching the popularity of the late 80’s and early 90’s. If people would save current super star inserts #d/50 or less instead of going to auction the very day they open the product, someday that insert might fetch more than 50 cents.

  4. The way I figure it, back then, a product would probably only have one set numbered to 1000, one to 250, one to 100, etc. as opposed to absolutely every single insert and parallel having so many layers of parallels numbered to every number imaginable. So it might have only had one Michael Jordan numbered to 50 – if it had any numbered inserts or parallels at all – where today, there could be ten or more you could get from a single pack of just about any brand. Also figure in that everything had such higher print runs in general, and odds-wise, that /50 Jordan is at least close to a 1/1 today.

  5. Jordan is still very popular, a target of many PCs. Not only are cards like these rare, they are desirable because they were issued when he still played for Chicago and provide what many collectors seek in this hobby–nostalgia.

    Add to the international demand the fact that many of Jordan’s biggest fans are now earning money as professionals and can afford to bid/purchase these cards, and you get the result above. It should not be so surprising.

    Cards that sold in the $100s in 1992 may not have been affordable to 13-year-old MJ fan that year, but 20 years later, that same kid now has the income of a 33-year-old and may be willing to spend a lot more for that still-elusive card.

  6. SO I have no idea about cards and their values, so here goes… I have a 97/98 Z-Force Zupermen #190 Michael Jordan and it’s not numbered like many I have seen, that have 30 out of 50. It’s in a card protector… Where do I get an appraisal of the card?

  7. If it isnt serially numbered on the back, it is most likely just another card. My guess is its worth 5-15 dollars, but I have no idea unless I can see the card.

  8. Rare inserts in the 90’s are worth a lot because they are actually rare. When the 1st refractors hit the market only one set had them, when jerseys hit the market few were made, and the same with autos . A /100 card was rare because it was a new concept and few sets were making them.

    Back in the 90’s a 1/1 was just that. Now you have 10 1:1 variations of the same card .

    Bowman was doing a good job when they introduced rookie refractor autos and a few low numbered variations . They hit a home run with the superfractor , but now every insert and subset has a superfractor. Bowman needs to continue putting out the rookie auto chase cards with rare variations but needs to stop making so many variations . I hope they don’t ruin the superfractor by making too many variations of it.

    I wish companies like panini would go out of business and stop flooding the market with junk.

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