When Upper Deck launched its first Exquisite Basketball product in 2003-04, there were many in the hobby who did not believe collectors would be willing to pay $500 for the product. Thanks to demand for LeBron James and the other high-profile rookies who entered the NBA that season, there was no shortage of buyers for that first release and prices soared. Still, skeptics didn’t think the market would support a similar offering the following season.
It appears the skeptics were wrong. Prices for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 releases are now in the $1,000-per-pack range, while the debut product is now selling for more than $3,000 per pack. The search for rare insert cards from the NBA’s top rookies of those respective seasons are fueling those increases.
“All three UD Exquisite products remain on fire and are getting harder and harder to find as singles disappear into collections,” said Tuff Stuff basketball pricing analyst Steve Bloedow. “Nearly every rookie single from 2003-04 rose in value this month, along with nearly every insert.”
James’ 2003-04 rookie is now valued at $13,000 in the February 2007 Tuff Stuff price guide and Dwyane Wade is at $7,500. Even some rookies from last season, a crop that failed to generate significant sales increases across the category a year ago, are now seeing values soar for their 2005-06 Exquisite rookie cards. For instance, Utah’s Deron Williams’ card jumped from $800 to $1,500 in the past month, while the cards of Golden State’s Monta Ellis and the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum each doubled from $300 to $600.
“Any rookie who’s doing anything has seen their Exquisite cards go up in recent months,” said Bloedow.