PHILADELPHIA -- Immediately after tearing a ligament in his left knee in Philadelphia Wednesday night, a sorrowful, but composed Charles Barkley announced to the world that his lustrous career that began in Philadelphia, had ended there. "I am a little sad. I cried a little bit. But I've got too many memories to let tonight end on a bad note," explained Charles Barkley during a press conference following Wednesday night's game.

With career numbers that put him in the upper echelon of NBA history, Barkley is a slam-dunk for the Hall of Fame. With all of this in mind, a collector can not help but wonder what this means for Barkley collectibles and, specifically his rookie card, the 1986 Fleer.

While the future will tell the tale, it's a safe assumption that the '86 Fleer Barkley will experience a significant increase in value. Over the past few years, the card has slowly been losing its luster. Basketball card collectors, all modern card collectors for that matter, have a very "what have you done for me lately" attitude about active athletes. Most would agree that while Barkley has continued to be a very, very good player, he was in the twilight of his career. He hasn't received the attention or acclaim that he once did, and this decrease in popularity has been reflected in Barkley card values.

Now, at the end, collectors will look at Barkley's entire career in hard numbers that can be compared to those of other players, and I believe he will fare very well. Combine this with the fact that there will be dozens of sports shows highlighting what he has meant to the game, and the desirability of his cards can't help but benefit. Once the initial bull market has subsided, the card's value should experience a plateau and then, in the long run, be one of the keys of the '86 set-a set that is arguably one of the most important and desirable in the entire sportscard collecting hobby.

While people may disagree, let's take a look at the facts. The '86 Fleer set includes the rookie cards for, among others, Michael Jordan (most people's choice as the greatest ever), Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullan, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, and James Worthy. It's an affordable set of reasonable size, and includes the most valuable modern card, the Michael Jordan rookie.

Lastly, it was the first main stream offering of basketball cards since the 1981 Topps set. Granted, Star Cards were printed in between, but with the scandal surrounding rampant counterfeiting (PSA won't even grade them), most people have eliminated them as a candidate for collectibility. These factors have combined to make the 1986 Fleer set very widely collected, and the key cards that are exceptionally desirable in Gem-Mint 10 condition. Charles Barkley is among these keys.

Barkley: Highlights and Career Stats
Career Highlights

  • 1992-93 NBA Most Valuable Player
  • U.S. Olympic team - Member of gold medal team (1992)
  • Nine-time NBA All-Star (1987-1997)
  • All-Star Game MVP (1991)
  • Led NBA with 14.6 rebounds per game average (1987)
  • Named NBA All-Rookie team (1985)
  • Named NBA first team (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993)
  • Named NBA second team (1986, 1987, 1992, 1994)
  • Named NBA third team (1996)

REGULAR SEASON
SEASON G FG FT Reb Ast Pts
1984-85 Phi 82 .545 .733 8.61.9 14.0
1985-86 Phi 80 .572 .685 12.8 3.9 20.0
1986-87 Phi 68 .594 .761 14.6 4.9 23.0
1987-88 Phi 80 .587 .751 11.9 3.2 28.3
1988-89 Phi 79 .579 .753 12.5 4.1 25.8
1989-90 Phi 79 .600 .749 11.5 3.9 25.2
1990-91 Phi 67 .570 .722 10.1 4.2 27.6
1991-92 Phi 75 .552 .695 11.1 2.8 23.1
1992-93 Pho 76 .520 .765 12.2 5.1 25.6
1993-94 Pho 65 .495 .704 11.2 4.6 21.6
1994-95 Pho 68 .486 .748 11.1 4.1 23.0
1995-96 Pho 71 .500 .777 11.6 3.7 23.2
1996-97 Hou 53 .484 .694 13.5 4.7 19.2
1997-98 Hou 68 .485 .746 11.7 3.2 15.2
-- 1999 Hou 42 .478 .719 12.3 4.6 16.1
1999-00 Hou 19 .479 .651 10.9 3.3 15.1
TOTALS 1072 .541 .735 11.7 3.9 22.2

PLAYOFFS
SEASON G FG FT Reb> Ast Pts
1984-85 Phi 13 .540 .635 11.1 2.0 14.9
1985-86 Phi 12 .578 .695 15.8 5.6 25.0
1986-87 Phi 5 .573 .800 12.6 2.4 24.6
1988-89 Phi 3 .644 .710 11.7 5.3 27.0
1989-90 Phi 10 .543 .602 15.5 4.3 24.7
1990-91 Phi 8 .592 .653 10.5 6.0 24.9
1992-93 Pho 24 .477 .771 13.6 4.3 26.6
1993-94 Pho 10 .509 .764 13.0 4.8 27.6
1994-95 Pho 10 .500 .733 13.4 3.2 25.7
1995-96 Pho 4 .443 .787 13.5 3.8 25.5
1996-97 Hou 16 .434 .769 12.0 3.4 17.9
1997-98 Hou 4 .522 .571 5.3 1.0 9.0
--1999 Hou 4 .529 .667 13.8 3.8 23.5
TOTALS 123 .513 .717 12.9 3.9 23.0
Barkley Fleer 1986: good short-term investment, perhaps not long-term
Barkley Fleer 1986: good short-term investment, perhaps not long-term