The 1986 Fleer Basketball set is one of the most iconic and sought-after sports card sets of all-time.
Here’s a full guide to everything you need to know about the famous set:
Table of Contents
How Many Cards Are In The 1986 Fleer Basketball Set?
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Los Angeles Lakers
2 Alvan Adams – Phoenix Suns
3 Mark Aguirre – Dallas Mavericks
4 Danny Ainge – Boston Celtics
5 John Bagley – Cleveland Cavaliers
6 Thurl Bailey – Utah Jazz
7 Charles Barkley – Philadelphia 76ers
8 Benoit Benjamin – Los Angeles Clippers
9 Larry Bird – Boston Celtics
10 Otis Birdsong – New Jersey Nets
11 Rolando Blackman – Dallas Mavericks
12 Manute Bol – Washington Bullets
13 Sam Bowie – Portland Trail Blazers
14 Joe Barry Carroll – Golden State Warriors
15 Tom Chambers – Seattle SuperSonics
16 Maurice Cheeks – Philadelphia 76ers
17 Michael Cooper – Los Angeles Lakers
18 Wayne Cooper – Denver Nuggets
19 Pat Cummings – New York Knicks
20 Terry Cummings – Milwaukee Bucks
21 Adrian Dantley – Utah Jazz
22 Brad Davis – Dallas Mavericks
23 Walter Davis – Phoenix Suns
24 Darryl Dawkins – New Jersey Nets
25 Larry Drew – Sacramento Kings
26 Clyde Drexler – Portland Trail Blazers
27 Joe Dumars – Detroit Pistons
28 Mark Eaton – Utah Jazz
29 James Edwards – Phoenix Suns
30 Alex English – Denver Nuggets
31 Julius Erving – Philadelphia 76ers
32 Patrick Ewing – New York Knicks
33 Vern Fleming – Indiana Pacers
34 Sleepy Floyd – Golden State Warriors
35 World B. Free – Cleveland Cavaliers
36 George Gervin – Chicago Bulls
37 Artis Gilmore – San Antonio Spurs
38 Mike Gminski – New Jersey Nets
39 Rickey Green – Utah Jazz
40 Sidney Green – Chicago Bulls
41 David Greenwood – San Antonio Spurs
42 Darrell Griffith – Utah Jazz
43 Bill Hanzlik – Denver Nuggets
44 Derek Harper – Dallas Mavericks
45 Gerald Henderson – Seattle SuperSonics
46 Roy Hinson – Philadelphia 76ers
47 Craig Hodges – Milwaukee Bucks
48 Phil Hubbard – Cleveland Cavaliers
49 Jay Humphries – Phoenix Suns
50 Dennis Johnson – Boston Celtics
51 Eddie Johnson – Sacramento Kings
52 Frank Johnson – Washington Bullets
53 Magic Johnson – Los Angeles Lakers
54 Marques Johnson – Los Angeles Clippers
55 Steve Johnson – San Antonio Spurs
56 Vinnie Johnson – Detroit Pistons
57 Michael Jordan – Chicago Bulls
58 Clark Kellogg – Indiana Pacers
59 Albert King – New Jersey Nets
60 Bernard King – New York Knicks
61 Bill Laimbeer – Detroit Pistons
62 Allen Leavell – Houston Rockets
63 Lafayette Lever – Denver Nuggets
64 Alton Lister – Seattle SuperSonics
65 Lewis Lloyd – Houston Rockets
66 Maurice Lucas – Los Angeles Lakers
67 Jeff Malone – Washington Bullets
68 Karl Malone – Utah Jazz
69 Moses Malone – Washington Bullets
70 Cedric Maxwell – Los Angeles Clippers
71 Rodney McCray – Houston Rockets
72 Xavier McDaniel – Seattle SuperSonics
73 Kevin McHale – Boston Celtics
74 Mike Mitchell – San Antonio Spurs
75 Sidney Moncrief – Milwaukee Bucks
76 Johnny Moore – San Antonio Spurs
77 Chris Mullin – Golden State Warriors
78 Larry Nance – Phoenix Suns
79 Calvin Natt – Denver Nuggets
80 Norm Nixon – Los Angeles Clippers
81 Charles Oakley – Chicago Bulls
82 Akeem Olajuwon – Houston Rockets
83 Louis Orr – New York Knicks
84 Robert Parish – Boston Celtics
85 Jim Paxson – Portland Trail Blazers
86 Sam Perkins – Dallas Mavericks
87 Ricky Pierce – Milwaukee Bucks
88 Paul Pressey – Milwaukee Bucks
89 Kurt Rambis – Los Angeles Lakers
90 Robert Reid – Houston Rockets
91 Doc Rivers – Atlanta Hawks
92 Alvin Robertson – San Antonio Spurs
93 Cliff Robinson – Philadelphia 76ers
94 Tree Rollins – Atlanta Hawks
95 Dan Roundfield – Washington Bullets
96 Jeff Ruland – Philadelphia 76ers
97 Ralph Sampson – Houston Rockets
98 Danny Schayes – Denver Nuggets
99 Byron Scott – Los Angeles Lakers
100 Purvis Short – Golden State Warriors
101 Jerry Sichting – Boston Celtics
102 Jack Sikma – Milwaukee Bucks
103 Derek Smith – Los Angeles Clippers
104 Larry Smith – Golden State Warriors
105 Rory Sparrow – New York Knicks
106 Steve Stipanovich – Indiana Pacers
107 Terry Teagle – Golden State Warriors
108 Reggie Theus – Sacramento Kings
109 Isiah Thomas – Detroit Pistons
110 LaSalle Thompson – Sacramento Kings
111 Mychal Thompson – Portland Trail Blazers
112 Sedale Threatt – Philadelphia 76ers
113 Wayman Tisdale – Indiana Pacers
114 Andrew Toney – Philadelphia 76ers
115 Kelly Tripucka – Detroit Pistons
116 Mel Turpin – Cleveland Cavaliers
117 Kiki Vandeweghe – Portland Trail Blazers
118 Jay Vincent – Dallas Mavericks
119 Bill Walton – Boston Celtics
120 Spud Webb – Atlanta Hawks
121 Dominique Wilkins – Atlanta Hawks
122 Gerald Wilkins – New York Knicks
123 Buck Williams – New Jersey Nets
124 Gus Williams – Washington Bullets
125 Herb Williams – Indiana Pacers
126 Kevin Willis – Atlanta Hawks
127 Randy Wittman – Atlanta Hawks
128 Al Wood – Seattle SuperSonics
129 Mike Woodson – Sacramento Kings
130 Orlando Woolridge – Chicago Bulls
131 James Worthy – Los Angeles Lakers
132 Checklist Card
1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Los Angeles Lakers
2 Larry Bird – Boston Celtics
3 Adrian Dantley – Utah Jazz
4 Alex English – Denver Nuggets
5 Julius Erving – Philadelphia 76ers
6 Patrick Ewing – New York Knicks
7 Magic Johnson – Los Angeles Lakers
8 Michael Jordan – Chicago Bulls
9 Akeem Olajuwon – Houston Rockets
10 Isiah Thomas – Detroit Pistons
11 Dominique Wilkins – Atlanta Hawks
How Much Does It Cost To Buy The Full 1986 Fleer Basketball Set?
If you’re looking to buy the complete 1986 Fleer Basketball set, the total cost of all 132 cards, plus the 11 stickers, based on average individual sales prices is:
In PSA grade 8: $14,878
In PSA grade 9: $39,515
In PSA grade 10: $451,714
Are 1986 Fleer Basketball Cards Rare?
Overall, 1986 Fleer Basketball cards aren’t rare or hard to get hold of, with population reports, like PSA’s, showing multiple-thousands of graded copies for every card, which doesn’t include raw copies or those graded by other companies.
The set was released around the start of the Junk Wax Era of sports cards, and while the Fleer Basketball wasn’t as highly-produced as many other sports card products during that time, it was still a readily available set, and by no means scarce by today’s standards.
However, rarity can be found in the 1986 Fleer cards that have achieved the top-grades, like PSA 10 or BGS 10 – The cards aren’t easy to keep in good condition, and with the amount of time that has passed since they were released, a very small ratio of the cards that are graded attain the top grade.
The rarity of the top-graded copies makes them hard to come by, particularly the most sought-after cards from the set, so there’s a huge premium on the price of those.
What Are The Most Valuable 1986 Fleer Basketball Cards?
1986 Fleer Michael Jordan #57
1986 Fleer Sticker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #1
1986 Fleer Jeff Malone #67
1986 Fleer Charles Barkley #7
1986 Fleer Johnny Moore #76
1986 Fleer Dominique Wilkins #121
Why Is The 1986 Fleer Basketball Set So Popular?
There are multiple reasons why the 1986 Fleer Basketball set is so iconic and sought-after – It’s one of the greatest sports card releases ever.
Michael Jordan Rookie Card
The obvious reason, which most collectors will go to first, is the presence of the coveted Michael Jordan rookie card; The rookie card of one of the best and most famous sportsmen of all-time is going to attract a lot of interest and demand, so it’s no surprise.
It’s one of the most famous sports cards of all-time, so naturally the set that it’s from has added significance.
A Shortage Of Other Basketball Card Releases Around That Time
The 1981-82 Topps Basketball set marked their last basketball card product for a decade, and despite some products from Star in the meantime, it was the last basketball release from any major manufacturer until the 1986 Fleer set, so the set was well received by basketball collectors, who had to wait so long.
The pause in major basketball card products also meant that the 1986 Fleer set featured a high number of rookie cards – Of the 132 cards in the set, 68 of them were rookies, which is very unusual. Also, a decent number of those rookies ended up in the Hall of Fame.
Star Name Checklist
Not only did the 1986 Fleer set include numerous Hall of Famer rookie cards, but there were other star names in the checklist to complete a star-studded lineup – Notable names, that weren’t rookie cards, included the likes of Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Despite there being so many big names, the complete set isn’t that big, especially by today’s standards – With only 132 base cards, and 11 stickers in the entire set, it’s very collectible; Those with the budget shouldn’t have too many problems buying every single card and owning the whole set, which is definitely an added appeal.
The card design, and in particular the red, blue and white border, resonated well with collectors at the time, but it’s become so distinctive and iconic now, that it adds to the allure of the Fleer set.
Why Is The Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer Card Considered His Rookie Card?
Most collectors consider the 1986 Fleer card to be Michael Jordan’s rookie card, however he does have a card that was released earlier, in the 1984-85 Star set, so it makes sense to wonder why that isn’t considered the true rookie card, and why it’s considered to be an XRC.
Contrary to what many collectors believe, the 1984-85 Star set, which featured the first Jordan card, was an NBA licensed product, so that’s not the reason it isn’t considered a true rookie card.
XRCs (extended rookie cards) was coined by Beckett, who wanted a way to differentiate between a player’s first card in a regular or standard release (RC), and a first card from an ‘irregular’ or ‘special set’ – An example of a ‘special’ set is those that are updates or released in complete set form.
The 1983-84 Star set was not distributed in a regular and traditional way, or they weren’t readily available and easily obtained by the general public through outlets like corner stores or mini-marts etc – Collectors generally followed Beckett’s definition, which is why Star Co. rookie cards are considered to be XRCs.
In addition to that, PSA stopped grading Star cards in the early 1990s because of issues with the legitimacy of many cards that had surfaced after the manufacturer lost its NBA license. However, they did start grading Star cards again, including those from the 1984-85 set, in 2022.
Were The Signed Michael Jordan Fleer Rookie Cards Released With The Original Set?
There are a total of 23 signed and hand-numbered Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer rookie cards, but they weren’t released with the original set.
As part of a 20th anniversary promotion, Upper Deck (who had bought Fleer) acquired 23 well-preserved original Michael Jordan Fleer rookie cards, and had Jordan sign and serial-number them himself – They were then re-released as redemptions in the 2006-07 Fleer set.
So, while the signed Fleer Jordan rookie cards are cards that were from the original release, in 86, they weren’t signed until much later.
What Other Notable Rookie Cards Are From The 1986 Fleer Basketball Set?
The most notable and well-known rookie card from the 1986 Fleer set is the Michael Jordan (#57) rookie, but there are numerous other rookie cards of note in the checklist, which include:
- Charles Barkley rookie card #7
- Clyde Drexler rookie card #26
- Patrick Ewing rookie card #32
- Karl Malone rookie card #68
- Hakeem ( “Akeem”) Olajuwon rookie Card #82
- Isiah Thomas rookie card #109
- Dominique Wilkins rookie card #121
Did Fleer Reprint The 1986 Fleer Basketball Set?
If you do an eBay search for a 1986 Fleer Basketball card, particularly the Jordan rookie, the chances are you’ll see people selling cards listed as a ‘reprint’.
Fleer never officially reprinted the original set, but they did release 20 of the cards in their 1996-97 Decade of Excellence product, which feature an almost identical design – The two key differences were a slightly glossier finish to the cards, as well as the addition of ‘Fleer Decade of Excellence 1986-1996’ on the front, in gold foil, to distinguish from the originals.
Any other cards that are listed as ‘reprints’ are counterfeits – Because of the popularity and value of the original 1986 Fleer cards, they’re prone to fraudulent and counterfeit copies, which is why you’ve got to be extra careful when buying them raw; The safest option is to buy professionally graded versions of the cards, to guarantee their authenticity.
Were The 1986 Fleer Stickers In The Same Packs As The Cards?
Yes, the 11 stickers were included in packs with the cards for 1986 Fleer, inserted one per pack.