Tustin, CA - Like the ultimate center jump, the world's greatest basketball trading card is about to be tossed up for grabs.
A mint condition 1948 Bowman George Mikan rookie card, the only one ever to be professionally graded as a Gem Mint 10, is expected to set the sports memorabilia industry on fire when it hits the auction block December 12th. The card, authenticated by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) has been consigned to Southern California-based Memory Lane Inc's Hidden Treasures Auction with a minimum bid of $50,000.
The card is the key to the earliest basketball-only set in sports card history, a one-year offering that features the legendary Mikan as its unquestioned centerpiece. Often described as the "T206 Honus Wagner of basketball cards," the Mikan card was printed in Bowman's more scarce second series, enhancing its value as not just the rookie card of a pioneering Hall of Famer but also as a true sports card rarity.
How scarce is a high-grade card of this Hall of Famer? Just four Mikan rookies have been graded at a '9' (mint) level in the history of PSA. Collectors will recall that a '9' graded example sold in 2008 for over $52,000. A one-of-a-kind PSA 10 Mikan rookie will be even more doggedly pursued by those piecing together the ultimate high-grade 1948 Bowman basketball set, by fans of iconic sports cards and by investors who likely see the potential of owning a "1 of 1" card of a Hall of Fame player. The card was recently rated as one of the top 20 sports trading cards ever produced.
The 1948 Bowman basketball set was the first Bowman sports card set produced in color and represents the last mainstream basketball card set until Topps first dipped its toes in the water in 1957-58. It is the only basketball set Bowman would produce before going out of the sports trading card business in 1955. While basketball players were occasionally featured on sports cards prior to the 1940s, the '48 Bowman set was the first all-basketball card set ever created.
Mikan's impact on the game of basketball can't be overstated. The story of his climb from gangly youngster to Pro Basketball Hall of Famer is remarkable. He stood over six feet tall at age eleven and endured taunting from classmates who saw him as a freak. Turned down by high school coaches and by the University of Notre Dame, the Illinois native finally found a home at DePaul University where legendary coach Ray Meyer helped mold him into a three-time All-American.
After a year with the short-lived Chicago Gears professional team, Mikan landed in Minneapolis where he would lead the Lakers to five Basketball Association of America titles in six years, averaging 23 points per game. He was the game's first dominant big man, a 6-foot-10 inch bespectacled wonder who became basketball's first real star attraction. Madison Square Garden's marquee advertised games between the Lakers and the New York team as "George Mikan vs Knicks Tonight". He was, by most all accounts, the Babe Ruth of basketball.
Mikan later became the first commissioner of the American Basketball Association and helped bring the Minnesota Timberwolves into the NBA in the 1980s. Not long after that, he received the ultimate honor by being named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of All Time.
The 1948 Bowman basketball card offered by Memory Lane is simply the finest example of a Mikan rookie to ever hit the open market. After several years in a private collection, the card will now be sold to the highest bidder at what is sure to be a history-making hobby event. It's very possible it will officially claim its rightful place as the most expensive basketball card of all-time once the auction ends.
Mikan appears on so few sports collectibles, anything dating from his days as a player is very much in demand. His rookie card is at the top of the list and a rookie card of this nature stands as the ultimate target for the most serious collectors. Measuring the standard Bowman size of 2 1/16" x 2 ½", the card features Mikan's biography on the back. Unlike many of its cousins, the PSA 10 example being offered is well centered with razor sharp corners and an overall crisp, clean appearance.
As usual, Memory Lane will offer hundreds of other high quality vintage sports cards and pieces of sports history in its auction, one of a few highly anticipated events the company holds each year.
To bid on the Mikan card or any of the other incredible pieces of sports history that will be presented, call (877) 606-LANE (5263) to register and obtain a full-color catalog or complete the process online at www.MemoryLaneInc.com.