On Friday morning, an extremely rare Luka Doncic rookie playing card from 2018-19 — his rookie season — went for $3.12 million with buyer’s premium, the most ever paid for a basketball card at a public auction.
The one-of-a-kind card features Doncic’s signature and a patch from his game-worn jersey.
The same card privately sold for $4.6 million in March 2021, making it the most expensive basketball card sold at the time. That record was then broken a month later when PWCC brokered a $5.2 million deal for a card from LeBron James’ rookie campaign.
In the year and a half since those two deals, the market for sports memorabilia has exploded.
Just in the past six months alone, records continue to fall starting in May with Diego Maradona’s jersey worn in the 1986 World Cup which fetched $9.3 million, the most paid for an item of sports memorabilia at the time. Three months later, a Mickey Mantle card hauled in a staggering $12.6 million. The high-dollar purchases continued into September when Michael Jordan’s “Last Dance” jersey, worn in the 1998 NBA Finals, went for $10.1 million.
While the multi-million dollar sale of Doncic’s card isn’t particularly unique for the times, it’s surprising to some to see a player so young in their career bring in such a haul.
The 23-year-old burst on to the scene in 2018 after dominating abroad. He immediately made an impact in Dallas, winning Rookie of the Year behind averages of 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and six assists. He has since appeared in three-straight All-Star games and led the Mavericks to three-straight playoff appearances, including a spot in last year’s Western Conference Finals.
Doncic began this season on a tear, picking up right where he left off. He opened the season with nine-consecutive 30-point games, second to only Wilt Chamberlain himself. While that streak came to an end earlier this month against the Magic, Doncic forged ahead and placed himself in elite company on Tuesday when he joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson as the only three players to record 25 games of 35+ points, 10+ rebounds and five-plus assets all before their 25th birthday.
The Mavs are currently tied for seventh in the Western Conference with an 8-6 record. They’ll have a chance to add to their win column at home against the 9-5 Denver Nuggets tonight.