LeBron’s Decision and the Impact on the Card Market

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, LeBron James is going back home to Cleveland. This has a huge impact on the NBA, but also a huge impact on trading cards. This move not only impacts him, but many others as well.

First let’s take a look at how it impacts LeBron’s card market. Amazingly enough it doesn’t have a profound impact on his value. Since he can’t sign autographs in any NBA-licensed card products, there won’t be much of a spike for his stuff. Yes, people will be excited about getting his first “new” Cavs card. This will be especially true if he doesn’t go back to his old number 23. There will certainly be I interest in his jersey and patch cards from Cleveland. However, there was already considerable interest in those cards before this move. Upper Deck might see a slight uptick just based on the fact that the do have autographs of him in products. But I’m not sure the market for St. Vincent/St. Mary’s will see much increase. Certainly UDA items will garner some interest. Unfortunately we won’t be seeing any LeBron/Wiggins/Kyrie auto photos or balls anytime soon since they are exclusive with different companies. Overall, the market won’t change too much for LeBron’s cards and memorabilia.

That’s not the case at all for his Cavs teammates.  Assuming they don’t trade Wiggins, they have 3 of the last 4 number 1 overall picks. Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins are sure to see their values rise. These guys will all be on TV all the time now. They will become household names across the NBA landscape. They will also get to play in the Playoffs. That’s huge for card values.  2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 NBA products should be a little more attractive now.  I firmly expect a few of the Cavs young pieces to be traded, but whoever stays will certainly see an increase in value.

A few Heat players probably see a drop in value. Norris Cole is the one that stands out most to me. He’s always had more value than he was probably worth as a backup PG. However, he went to the Finals his first 3 seasons and won 2 Championships. There were certainly more talented backup PGs, but probably not ones that were more well-known. It doesn’t help that Chalmers is back and the drafted Napier. Wade and Bosh probably see a slight downturn in value. Wade really shouldn’t as his legacy is firmly entrenched. However, he certainly won’t be in the spotlight as much now. Bosh is an interesting case. Honestly, he’s never had tremendous value. He’s either been the best player on a so-so team or the 3rd best on a Championship team. He won’t be in the news as much without LeBron, but he does have a chance to leaf a team again as it’s best player. In the long run, this could be better for his value if he makes a few deep Playoffs runs. However, his short term value probably takes a small hit.  The Heat player who is probably hurt the most by this news is Napier. He was a flashy college player who seemed to land in the perfect spot. LeBron talked openly about how much he loved this kid. Now Napier finds himself 3rd string on a team that’s a Playoff contender, but probably not a legit title contender. His rookie cards will still have value if he plays well, but they might have had value either way if he was playing next to LeBron.

As you can see, there are a few card market drawbacks to LeBron going to Cleveland. However, I believe it’s a great thing as long as Bennett and Wiggins stay put. Those guys could see a dramatic increase in value and could really help 2013-14 and 2014-15 products.

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