The Life of an NBA Card Collector


Basketball cards are enjoying a resurgence. They were once popular back in the 1990s, but they reemerged in the market during the pandemic last year. Though true-blue collectors have been in the business of trading basketball cards for years, it was not until last year that this took off again. But unlike in the past, card collecting and trading these days took a whole different approach.

For example, Lebron James’ rookie card sold for $1.8 million at an auction. Yes, that’s how expensive this hobby has become. It went from being an interest into a full-time job and business for others. It’s a bit like trading stocks. You keep on checking the value of the cards you have, as well as the stats of the players in those cards. A player injured for the season? Trust that his card will lose value.

But what does it feel like to do this full-time? How do collectors spend their time? Do they spend the whole day looking for and negotiating deals for cards on the internet? How do they approach collecting, buying, trading, and selling?

Spending All Day on the Internet

Thankfully, there are tons of resources and e-commerce stores on the internet selling these cards in packs. What collectors will normally do (especially for beginners) is to buy a whole pack and wish to the universe that there’s a rare card there somewhere… or, at the very least, a popular player from the National Basketball Association (NBA). A rookie player is a welcome addition to any collection so long as that player has a good chance of making it big in the league.

This is not very different from buying and collecting autographed memorabilia online. If you have a movie room with autographed movie posters, this is a bit like that although the stakes are much higher. With NBA cards, you can make millions of dollars if you’re lucky and if you have the money to invest in a “good” card.

Spending hours on the internet is part of the “job.” They have to be a part of the community, so they can get information on when a certain card will be released or how to get it. Some collectors are also doing private auctions of their rarest cards on the internet, so those who want to get a chance of copping these cards should receive instructions on how to enter the call. There are many ways to get the card you want from the online community but for them to trust a collector, you have to be constantly online, too. It’s like building and developing relationships.

Attending Exhibits and Events

Of course, collecting and trading cards don’t just happen over the internet. Before the pandemic, there were events that cater to these kinds of collectors. They usually attend these events to meet the rare breed of people who have Michael Jordan’s signed rookie card or any one of the legendary cards that cost millions of dollars. Sometimes, all they want is to get near these cards or to take a peek since only a few can truly afford them.

During these events, the collectors and traders will learn from the experts how each card is being graded. There are different levels to the quality of the cards, so prices will depend on how these experts grade them. This bit of information will be helpful to card collectors and traders as they climb that invisible ladder of this “hobby.”

Collaborating With Other Collectors

They also spend their time collaborating with other collectors. The thing about collecting and trading basketball cards is that it’s not something you do on your own. You have to collaborate with other collectors not only so you can find better deals, but also because you will learn a lot from your peers. Aside from spending most of their time on the internet searching for rare cards and doing side jobs so they can afford this new interest, they’re also entering into collaboration with vloggers, collectors, and social media influencers.

They do anything from informative blogs to tutorials on how to start your own card collection. The purpose of these collaborations is to open more opportunities for both parties, as well as for those who will support the programs they come up with. Such collaborations take time to be finalized so basketball card collectors will have a full day when they’re in the middle of these projects.

While collecting NBA cards seems to be a fun and cool idea, know that it is also a lot of responsibilities. They have to be responsible for taking care of the cards because these are an investment. The trading process takes a lot of time, money, patience, and knowledge.

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