Larry Joe Bird is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Playing as a small forward for the Boston Celtics from 1979 to 1992, Bird earned three NBA MVP awards and helped lead the Celtics to three NBA championships.
Due to his legendary status in the NBA, Larry Bird rookie cards and career cards from the 1970s and 80s are highly sought after by collectors. In this article, we will explore how much different Larry Bird cards are worth today based on their condition, rarity and other factors.
Top 10 Most Valuable Larry Bird Cards
Below are some of the most valuable and expensive Larry Bird cards that can fetch high prices depending on their condition:
1979 Topps Larry Bird Rookie Card (RC #526)
Considered the holy grail of Larry Bird cards, the 1979 Topps rookie in gem mint condition can sell for over $100,000. Even well-centered excellent or near mint copies trade hands for $10,000+ on the current market. This is Bird’s true rookie card from his rookie 1979 NBA season.
1979 Topps Larry Bird Rookie Card PSA 10
The mint condition PSA 10 graded version of Bird’s iconic rookie tops the value chart. At auction, PSA 10 copies have sold for as much as $180,000, making it one of the most valuable basketball cards period. Securing one in this pristine state is extremely difficult.
1981 Fleer Larry Bird #57
Bird’s first Fleer card is also highly acclaimed. High-grade copies in PSA 9-10 condition have sold for over $10,000 due to the set’s popularity during the 1980s NBA boom. Even well-preserved raw 8s can net over $1000 today.
1981 Topps Larry Bird #250
Another influential early Bird issue, the 1981 Topps version features impressive artwork. Pristine PSA 10 examples have reached the $15,000 price point. Near-mint PSA 9s consistently pull in the $2000-5000 range.
1981-82 Topps Larry Bird #89
Documenting Bird’s first MVP season, this card is a favorite of collectors. Near-mint PSA 9 copies have sold for $4000-6000. Raw 8s in outstanding condition can sell for $1000-1500.
1983 Topps Larry Bird #354
From Bird’s second MVP year, a PSA 10 of this iconic version would be worth close to $10,000. PSA 9s typically sell between $3000-5000 depending on time of year and demand levels. Well-centered raw 8s move for $800-1200.
1984 Donruss Larry Bird #236
This aesthetically striking insert style card gained popularity in the 1990s. High-grade specimens in PSA 8.5-9 condition have sold for $2000-4000 or more at auction. Even raw 7s can sell for several hundred dollars.
1985 Topps Larry Bird #428
From Bird’s third and final MVP season, PSA 9 copies have sold close to $3000-4000 at times. Raw 8s in flawless condition may net $800-1200. The card features some of Bird’s best stats and achievements.
1987 Fleer Update Larry Bird #U-21
A favorite of advanced collectors, this rare serial numbered Bird insert can sell for over $1500 PSA graded. Even raw high-grade specimens have achieved 4 figure prices before fees.
1991-92 Topps Larry Bird #222
Commemorating Bird’s retirement year, PSA 10 examples have sold for nearly $3000. Near-mint PSA 9 versions trade hands around $1000-1500 range depending on date pulled.
Factors That Determine Larry Bird Card Values
Several key attributes come into play when assessing how much a specific Larry Bird card may be worth:
Perhaps the single biggest influence on price, condition is paramount. Higher numerical PSA/BGS grades equal much more value due to rarity at the top end. Even fractional differences in grade mean hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Serial Number/Parallel Printing
Low print run serial numbered inserts fetch big premiums. Rare logo variant parallels also add value depending on scarcity. Numbered to #250 or less can mean multiples more than base versions.
Rookie or Key Season/Issue Year
As seen above, Bird’s true 1979 Topps rookie and iconic early years hold the most clout. His final season issues also gain attention. Intermediate season cards have room to rise based on personal significance.
Card Set/Brand Popularity
Sets from Bird’s heyday like Topps, Fleer and Donruss dominate discussion. Popular brands and designs move better than obscure short prints typically. Vintage issues gain over reprints whenever possible.
Striking photographic captures and creative illustrations can lift lower graded pieces above counterparts. Eye-catching subjective factors matter some to dedicated collectors.
Current Market Trends/Demand
Prices flux based on recent sales comps and current collector interests/appetites. Vintage basketball booms create short term spikes. Steadily gaining newgenerations of fans ensures longterm interest though.
Original photoelectronically produced cardboard stock remains king over newer reproduced variants. Proper logos and text are imperative. Professionally verified third-party grading settles disputes smoothly.
Factors That Can Lower Larry Bird Card Values
While the above attributes help maximize potential prices realized, certain downgrade traits still warrant consideration:
Low Numerical Grades
Heavily played used cards in PSA 1-3 or BGS 2.5 and under territory are tough sells except for unique variants. Even PSA 4-6 can mean deep fractionalized prices.
Defects and Imperfections
Creases, crinkles, stains or discoloration detract significantly more than smooth subtle wear alone. Alignment issues also hamper appeal and demand too.
Reprints and Reproductions
Modern reprinted versions hold little worth outside of nostalgic displays. Proper identifiers are crucial to authenticate original pressing dates.
Unpopular Teams/Less Sought Players
While Bird himself maintains steady interest, forgettable teammates on the same cards carry minimal intrinsic value usually.
Overproduction of Certain Issues
Some sets had massive print runs leaving common copies under $50 even in pristine condition. Rarity and scarcity drive objectively.
Cards lacking photo matching sleuthing or official verification carry inherent suspicions hampering full pricing potential.
Poor Photography or Lack of Visuals
Dull generic images and stats-only poses yield less captivation compared to iconic framed shots in climactic moments.
Larry Bird Card Price Check: Examples From eBay
Checking recent auction sales on eBay is a useful exercise to understand current market valuation:
|1979 Topps RC #526||PSA 8||$6,850|
|1981 Fleer #57||PSA 9||$2,299|
|1982 Topps #89||Raw 8||$1,050|
|1983 Donruss #236||PSA 8||$750|
|1987 Fleer Update #U-21||Raw 7||$200|
As shown above, even higher graded Bird cards can be had for under $10,000 if it’s not the true 1979 Topps RC. Watching the open market gives a real-time sense of where values are settling currently.
Larry Bird transformed the NBA during the 1980s and left an enduring legacy that still fascinates card collectors today. As one of the sport’s undisputed legends, Bird’s early rookie and star issue cards hold appreciation potentials that few players can rival. Condition, scarcity and the usual authentication factors carry immense influence on final price points attained. With his legend steadily growing new generations, savvy long term Larry Bird investment seems reasonably low risk for the patient collector. Always do full research before pulling the trigger to avoid overpaying though. With the right homework, Bird collecting remains a fruitful specialty area within the vibrantShareRetryTell me more.