A Celebration of LeBron James Through 10 Spectacular CSG-certified Basketball Cards
Posted on 3/1/2023
Few players in the history of the NBA entered the league with the expectations and hype that surrounded an 18-year-old LeBron James when he began his pro career in 2003. Twenty years later, the 6'9", 250-pound forward is still breaking records in what has become one of the most decorated NBA careers ever.
On February 7, 2023, James added another record to his astounding accomplishments that no one thought possible: he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's all-time scoring leader. The record of 38,387 career points stood for almost four decades. For many fans and analysts, owning the all-time scoring record, along with the rest of his career accomplishments, makes James the greatest player in NBA history.
Now that James has broken the historic record, Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG®) is revisiting some of James' most popular and valuable basketball cards graded by the CSG experts.
2003-04 Topps Chrome Refractors #111 LeBron James
Not only is this 2003-04 Topps Chrome Refractors #111 LeBron James graded CSG Gem Mint 10 the most expensive James card in the CSG Population Report, but it's also the first-ever graded card by CSG as well. That's why our experts added a special notation on the certification label that states, "First Card Graded."
This Gem Mint example of the rookie card sold for a stunning $98,100 in a PWCC auction that ended March 11, 2021. It features an in-game photo of a young James shooting a fadeaway shot over his opponent. The Topps Chrome rookie card is printed on chromium cardstock and also features a special "Draft Pick #1" text at the bottom to honor James as the first selection in the 2003 NBA Draft.
2003-04 SP Authentic #148 LeBron James Autograph
In September 2021, CSG had the pleasure of certifying a 2003-04 SP Authentic #148 LeBron James Autograph graded CSG 8, with a grade of CSG 10 for the Autograph. This is another highly sought-after rookie card of "King James." Only 500 of these cards were produced, with this particular card numbered 481 out of 500.
The SP Authentic rookie card features a full-body photo of James as a teenager about to dunk the basketball. The card's 481/500 designation is on the left and his "LBJ" signature in blue ink is just above the SP Authentic logo at the bottom.
2003-04 Upper Deck #301 LeBron James
The Upper Deck series is always popular with collectors, and that's why the 2003-04 Upper Deck #301 LeBron James is another high-dollar rookie card if you want to add it to your collection. It is one of James' most expensive base cards.
The rookie card features an action-shot of James attacking the rim in his Cleveland Cavaliers jersey with the text "Star Rookie" at the bottom of the card. Since it was his first year in the league straight out of high school, the back of the card has zero statistics but references James' selection as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.
2021 Metal Universe '97-98 Retro #RB-50 LeBron James - Precious Metal Gems Green
|2021 Metal Universe '97-98 Retro #RB-50 LeBron James - Precious Metal Gems Green graded CSG 9
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Basketball fans in the 1990s will remember the Metal Universe series well for their flashy, metallic designs and premium card stock. When SkyBox released a modern set influenced by the retro cards, it was another hit with today's collectors.
Of course, some of the most expensive cards in the set were inserts and parallels, such as the 2021 Metal Universe '97-98 Retro #RB-50 LeBron James - Precious Metal Gems Green. The card features the retro looks of the '90s Metal Universe series with this special green version limited to only 100 examples. This particular card is 007/100 and features James in street clothes, including a green T-shirt that matches the green background.
2007-08 Topps Chrome #23 LeBron James X-Fractor
Although Topps will always be a popular set, its superior Topps Chrome series often overshadows its counterpart in popularity and value. That's also the case with the 2007-08 Topps Chrome #23 LeBron James X-Fractor, which was limited to only 50 cards.
The special X-Fractor card features Topps Chrome's signature chromium card stock with an attractive checkerboard pattern. James is about to pull off a reverse dunk in the card's image while wearing Cleveland's navy-blue jersey. The back of the card features a short bio, stats and its limited run is noted with a 12/50 designation.
2021 Upper Deck Space Jam Teal Autographs #S-LJ LeBron James
This is another special series that was released in unison with LeBron James' starring role in Space Jam: A New Legacy from 2021. The 2021 Upper Deck Space Jam Teal Autographs #S-LJ is the gem of the set, as it contains the NBA superstar's signature at the bottom of the card in blue ink. The Space Jam insert features James in his teal and orange Space Jam jersey.
2004-05 Upper Deck Sweet Shot Signature Shots Autographs #SS-LJ LeBron James
|2004-05 Upper Deck Sweet Shot Signature Shots Autographs #SS-LJ LeBron James graded CSG 8.5
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This second-year card is another one that is highlighted by LeBron James' autograph, which will always make these basketball cards valuable. The 2004-05 Upper Deck Sweet Shot Signature Shots Autographs #SS-LJ has some unique features. The horizontal card has a small image of James, with his autograph on a basketball texture. Here, James signed his name and number, "23 LBJ." This card is graded CSG 8.5, with a CSG 10 for the Autograph.
2004-05 SkyBox Autographics #5 LeBron James
Here's another popular premium series that contained numerous NBA stars' facsimile autographs. The 2004-05 SkyBox Autographics #5 LeBron James is one of the highlights of that year's set, with a large image of James in his white Cavs jersey and a huge smile on his face. Across his chest and in the center of the card is James' signature in black. This card is graded CSG 9.
2020-21 Panini Mosaic #247 LeBron James - Black Gold
|2020-21 Panini Mosaic #247 LeBron James - Black Gold graded CSG Gem Mint 10
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Panini's Mosaic set is a newer series that was first released in 2019 and has caught on quickly with collectors. Its shiny, mosaic backgrounds and high-quality card stock have made the set's inserts and parallels highly sought-after. The 2020-21 Panini Mosaic #247 LeBron James - Black Gold parallel is one of the favorites of that year's series. This card, graded CSG Gem Mint 10, is the only one on our list featuring James in his current Los Angeles Lakers jersey. This National Pride version also features American flag graphics in the background.
2008-09 Topps Chrome 1958-59 Variations #23 LeBron James Refractor
|2008-09 Topps Chrome 1958-59 Variations #23 LeBron James Refractor graded CSG Gem Mint 10
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Once again, the Topps Chrome series contains some of the most valuable cards in the hobby. The 2008-09 Topps Chrome 1958-59 Variations #23 LeBron James Refractor is designed to look like Topps cards from the late 1950s, but with the modern chromium card stock. This one also had a limited print run of 999, with this specific card being 658/999. The card features a full-body shot of James shooting a jump shot in his white Cavaliers jersey.Related Links:
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