Bucks

Giannis Collecting His Own Basketball Cards Strengthens the Hobby

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If you ever found yourself at Wal-Mart, Target or Meijer in the past few years, you probably haven’t noticed all the kids (or Giannis Antetokounmpo) flooding around the sports card isle. That’s because there aren’t any. What you might see, however, is a group of grown men in their 30s waiting for the vendor to restock the shelves. Their kids are usually not with them.

Why is this? It’s not because the hobby of collecting cards is dying. Obviously, if there are hard-working adults waiting to spend their earnings on it, the industry is not struggling. In fact, it’s doing quite the opposite by raking in money like it falls from trees.

WHAT’S THE HYPE?

Card collecting has been a hobby since the early days of American sports culture. In 1887, Allen and Ginter Tobacco Company released what is known as the original set of baseball cards. The rest is multi-million dollar history.

The basic desire of the hobby is to collect your favorite players and teams. In the late 80s and through the 90s, card collecting was mainly consumed by kids. The market was highly saturated due to high demand and ultimately resulted in the majority of cards becoming worthless. This is known as the “junk-era.”

So what makes collecting so desirable now? Well, the truth is, the hobby never died. Technology might have taken away some of the kids, as most of them would rather play 2K or Madden. On the contrary, the last few years have seen a dramatic increase in hobbyists and hustlers. The sport that is running away with the highest demand is, without a doubt, NBA basketball.

Despite people being on the hunt for Zion Williamson and Ja Morant rookie cards, veteran players are still highly sought after. Antetokounmpo is among those at the top of the list. The league’s reigning MVP is one of the hobby’s most invested players. And while fans hope Zion or Ja will become the next Michael Jordan, Giannis is currently paving his way to become one of the greatest of all time. Collectors are paying attention, and they’re also paying big money.

COLLECTION OF SELF

One person that appears to be investing in the industry is Giannis himself. Late last month, the Bucks forward posted a video on his TikTok account showing off his collection. The coolest part? The collection in the video is entirely of himself.

These cards are also not base. They all looked to be autos, patches and combinations of both. These are also cards you most likely will not pull out of any retail product from the store. This means he either keeps them after he does signings with Panini, or he’s surfing eBay like the rest of us.

Either way, it’s very exciting to see an athlete indulge in the hobby.

Basic Card Terminology
  • Auto: Autographed/Signed 
  • Base Card: Regular card that forms part of the base set in the release. The most common card type
  • Brand: The specific set of cards produced by the company ex: Panini Prizm, Upper Deck Exquisite, Topps Heritage.
  • Card NumberOriginal number issued in the set, located on the back of every card.
  • Company/Manufacturer: The producers of the cards (Topps, Panini, Upper Deck, etc.)
  • Graded: Services used to determine overall card condition using a 1-10 style basis. The biggest grading companies are PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator) and BGS (Becket Grading Services)
  • Jersey Piece: Refers to a piece of memorabilia inserted into a card that is a single bit of material and not from the number, nameplate, logo, edging etc of the jersey or shorts.
  • OBO: Or Best Offer
  • Parallel: An alternate version of a certain card that is generally a slightly different finish/color.
  • Patch: Refers to a piece of memorabilia inserted into a card that is material from the number, nameplate, logo, edging etc of the jersey or shorts.
  • PRIZM: A chrome/refractor technology trademarked by Panini. Prizm is also a brand of Panini.
  • Serial Numbered: Indicates a card that has been numbered ex: 21/100, 10/25, 3/10, 1/1 etc.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Giannis’ short, 16-second TikTok video opens a whole new perspective of collecting cards. Although athletes may not necessarily be role models, they still hold plenty of influence. Seeing your favorite player doing anything similar to you is a small adrenaline boost. It also makes hobbyists feel a little better about their investments if they see that same athlete investing in themselves. This collection makes it feel like a superstar is actually just another sports nerd enjoying the same hobby we do.

Bucks fans should also note that Giannis clearly has confidence in himself by doing this.

Always remember, there is no such thing as too much authenticity. Knowing that a dominant player like Giannis is also a collector brings even more validation to the hobby. It gives a subtle message that says, “Hey, this is legit!”

Just imagine if Mickey Mantle collected baseball cards and fans knew about it. Then maybe thousands of his Topps 1952 rookie cards wouldn’t have been dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. That influence may have kept the attraction alive long enough for creators Sy Berger and Woody Gelman to unload their insanely over-produced product before their famous “dump.”

So not only did this video possibly inspire more people to enter the hobby, but it may have also encouraged other athletes to share their’s as well. It’s unlikely that Antetokounmpo is the only player with a jaw-dropping card collection.

A new record was recently set as a 2003-04 LeBron James, Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie-Patch-Auto Parallel, graded 9.5 BGS, sold for $1.845 million. That is the most any card produced from 1980-present has ever sold for. LeBron even chimed in on a post about the winning bid with an assumed “I collect them too” response.

LeBron James Has Hilarious Reaction to His Ultra-Rare Rookie Card Selling for $1.8 Million

If more players start to show off their collections, we will certainly see a rise in demand. This would obviously be great for a company like Panini, which holds all licensing rights with the NBA.

It’s also no secret the NBA has the biggest presence on social media. This platform is a great way for fans, hobbyists and collectors to come together (and spend money) at any time of the day. That’s prime marketing that Panini doesn’t have to pay a dime for.

THE FUTURE OF GIANNIS CARDS

If you’re a collector, invest! Whether you’re a local fan collecting base cards or a hunter looking to buy and flip, expect the Freak’s cards to be on the higher end.

Giannis only has one MVP (so far) under his belt at the age of 25. Michael Jordan didn’t win an MVP until he was 28. Although, MJ also won his first championship that same year. Jordan’s 1986 Fleer rookie card is considered a holy grail in the card world, and yet it may only fetch around $100,000.

Yes, I know that’s still an insane amount of money for cardboard. It’s still chump change compared to the new record set by Leore Avidar (CEO of Lob.com) who had the highest bid for the LeBron rookie card.

So what does that mean for Giannis cards? NBA fans should expect more hardware from Antetokounmpo by the end of his career. The more awards, and hopefully rings, the Greek Freak stacks up will help determine his card value.

After all, a card is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it.

In the month of June, an estimated 1,300-plus Giannis rookie cards were sold on eBay. The most expensive sale rang in at $39,999.99 for a 2013-14 Panini Prizm #209 Orange Parallel Prizm 52/60 BGS 10. Based on ranking from Beckett Basketball Database and Price Guide, the 2013-14 Panini National Treasures #130 Rookie-Patch-Auto is ranked first on the list of most valuable Giannis cards. There is one currently for sale on eBay for $149,999.99, OBO.

His cards are clearly enticing and hold tremendous potential. If Giannis can pave his way as one of the GOATs, we might see one of his rookie cards break the record. If, by some Greek-Godforsaken reason his career goes south (No, not to Miami), then we can expect his card value to plummet.

Given his tremendous work ethic and overwhelming support from fans, it’s unlikely that will happen. So go ahead and keep your collection going and watch your investments grow. We all know that’s what Giannis has been up to.

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About Mike Konicek

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