Most people immediately know who LeBron James is, even if they're not someone who particularly considers themselves a dedicated basketball fan. The truth of the matter is that there are some individuals who are so skilled in their chosen sport that they manage to take their skills to an entirely different level, one that makes them a household name in both mainstream and popular culture. That's something that LeBron James has always been particularly good at doing. Not surprisingly, he has been featured on a number of trading cards featuring him and other skilled basketball players. He was a first-round draft pick in 2003, chosen by the Cleveland Cavaliers straight out of high school. He went on to play for that team until 2010 when he traded to the Miami Heat. After four years in Miami, he returned to Cleveland until 2018. He then went to the LA Lakers where he continues to play today. James was named Rookie of the Year in 2004. He also led the NBA Championship team to victory in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2020. The same four years, he was named MVP. James has also been awarded the AP Athlete of the Year Award four times, in 2013, 2016, 2018 and 2020. Last but not least, he's been named an NBA All-Star no less than 18 times. His cards have sold for huge amounts of money over the years. Below are five of the most expensive LeBron James basketball trading cards that have ever been sold.
5. 2003-04 Topps #111 LeBron James Chrome Black Refractor Rookie Card PSA 10 ($480,000)
When you consider his career, it only makes sense that one of his rookie cards would end up on this list. After all, any player that's capable of making that kind of history is likely to end up with a rookie card that's worth a great deal of money. The thing about it is that when rookie cards are created, it's almost impossible to tell whether or not that particular player will go on to accomplish great things. As a result, you can usually purchase these trading cards during the same year that they're manufactured for next to nothing. The thing is, you can also enjoy a significant pay day when that player goes on to achieve greatness. As you can see from this particular example, having one of these cards in mint condition will get you close to $500,000 without even breaking a sweat.
4. 2012-13 Panini Prizms Gold #1 LeBron James PSA 9.5 ($571,200)
Here is another card that made a great deal of money, being sold by Goldin Auctions for just over $571,000. You might notice that the name on the card is different from the types of cards that most people are accustomed to seeing. Instead of having a name like Topps attached to it, this one was from Panini Prizm. It is definitely one of the more rare cards of its type and if you're lucky enough to have one that's in extremely good condition, then you also stand to make a great deal of money from selling it. In this particular case, the card in question was almost in perfect condition, receiving a PSA score of 9.5 out of 10. That said, even cards that aren't in mint condition can still bring a rather significant amount of money.
3. 2004-05 Topps #23 LeBron James Chrome Superfractor PSA 10 ($720,000)
You'll notice that this card was featured the very next season after his rookie year. By this time, it was already obvious to a number of people that they were more or less witnessing a player that was going to make history. As such, people had already started to pay attention to the trading cards featuring him in hopes of using them as high-dollar collectibles at some point in the future. In this particular case, those efforts paid off. This card was eventually sold by Heritage Auctions for more than $700,000. It's worth noting that it also received a very rare PSA score of 10 out of 10. Had it not been in such good condition, it would have obviously been worth less money. Nevertheless, it wasn't that far off the mark from netting the seller a $1 million payday.
2. 2004-05 Upper Deck #USL-LJ LeBron James Ultimate Signature Logos PSA 10 ($1,291,500)
Again, this is a card that was released only one year after James' rookie season. While the Topps card is often very popular and is obviously worth a great deal of money, this particular card sold for significantly more when it was sold at Goldin Auctions. In fact, it sold for more than $1.2 million. Granted, part of the reason that the card sold for more money is because it was part of a signature logo series where a likeness of the player’s signature was featured on the card as part of the production process. However, it's not quite the same thing as having a card that's actually signed by that particular individual in person. For anyone who manages to have one of these cards in mint condition that is actually signed by the player, there's no telling how much money could potentially be made from it. In this particular case, it was enough to make the mainstream news. After all, it's not every day that a simple trading card sells for more than $1 million.
1. 2003-04 Parallel Card #78 LeBron James Rookie Exquisite Collection PSA 9 ($5.2 million)
Without a doubt, this card rivals virtually any other trading card that was ever sold at auction. Sold for $5.2 million by Golden Auctions, it's easily the most expensive LeBron James trading cards that has ever been sold. Again, it's interesting to note that this is a card from his rookie year. Considering the career that he's had, it really shouldn't come as any surprise that a card featuring his outstanding rookie year would eventually become worth so much money. It's also worth noting that all of these cars are actually signed by the player that is featured on the card itself. Unlike the Upper Deck card that was mentioned earlier, the signatures are not a likeness of the individual's actual signature that is then mass-produced. Instead, the cards were produced in very limited numbers and then each player that was featured actually took the time to sit down and sign the card in a specially designated area. That makes this particular card extremely highly sought-after. As you can see, it also means that when you sell one in mint condition, it's worth a lot of money.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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