The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time

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The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time Empty The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time

Post by bobheckler on Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:49 pm

The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time
By Sports Collectors Daily

Updated: February 15, 2015

The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time Bird-magic-rookie

Historically speaking, the Boston Celtics have been the best team in the NBA, although their record this season may say otherwise. Boasting 17 NBA Championships, the team has had more success in the past than any other franchise. In terms of basketball cards, some of the most collectible pieces of cardboard are Celtics rookie cards. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the best rookie cards the Celtics have to offer.

Bob Cousy- 1957 Topps
bob cousy rookie card

The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time Cousy-rookie-card-178x300

One of the first all-time greats in Boston Celtics history, Bob Cousy definitely made it clear that he was the top point guard to ever call Boston home. Taking the league by storm in 1950, “Cooz” did not get a card until around the halfway point of his career.

In 1957 when Topps produced a full set of NBA cards, Cousy was featured in the set dribbling a ball (#17). Although it came out years after his rookie season, the Cousy rookie card has still been a hit with collectors.

A PSA 5 runs about $200 while a PSA 7 commands close to $700. Only three PSA 9s are in existence, so obviously those are not cheap– one can expect upwards of $7,500 at auction.

Bill Russell- 1957-1958 Topps


The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time Bill-russell-rookie-card-180x300

Winning 11 NBA Championships as a long-time member of the Boston Celtics, Bill Russell established himself as one the greatest centers in NBA history. Making his NBA debut during the 1956-1957, Russell found himself on cardboard in the 1957-58 Topps NBA set (#77).

His rookie cards are rarely found in high-grade because of the centering issues often seen with the set, the dark color of the photo and the simple passage of time.  Only five of Russell rookie cards have been rated at least an 8.5 while just three are graded 9.

While a more common EX condition card usually goes for about $1,000, a PSA 7 will set you back around $3,500. The almost unheard of higher grades fetch a mint.

Tommy Heinsohn- 1957-1958 Topps

The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time Heinsohn-rookie-card-174x300

Better known now as the color commentator during the Celtics games on Comcast Sports Network New England, Tommy Heinsohn, like Bob Cousy, was a star at Holy Cross. From his league debut, Heinsohn had a profound impact on the team, winning NBA Rookie of the Year for 1957.

In the 1957-58 Topps set, Heinsohn (#19) is attempting to block a shot on his card. That piece of cardboard does not come cheap however, as even an EX/NM example can sell for up to $200.

There are no mint, graded Heinsohn rookie cards in existence and there is just one PSA 8.5. There are just 26 PSA 8 Heinsohn cards and those are not cheap—commanding close to $900 on average.

Sam Jones- 1961 Fleer

The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time Sam-jones-rookie-171x300

Winning ten NBA Championships as a member of the C’s, Sam Jones won the second most rings in his NBA career—second only to Bill Russell.

Had Sam Jones made his NBA debut a year earlier, he would have been featured in the 1957 Topps set but instead, he had to settle for a card in the 1961 Fleer set.

Perhaps the cheapest option of the vintage Celtics greats, a PSA 5 is a bargain at $40 while a PSA 7 can be found for under $100.

Although there are 16 PSA 9’s out there, they do not come cheap—the most recent one sold at auction commanded $1800.

John Havlicek- 1969-1970 Topps

The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time John-havlicek-rookie-166x300

A teammate of Russell for some of his NBA career, John Havlicek might just be best known for a certain steal in the final seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference Championship. What some may not realize is that he was the best shooting guard in Boston Celtics history.

John Havlicek was already an established NBA star before he was featured on cardboard.  Other than Fleer’s 1961-62 set, there were no mainstream basketball cards issued from 1958 through 1968.

Havlicek was in the 1968-69 Topps Test issue but those cards are extremely rare with only a small number in existence.  The card generally considered Hondo’s rookie is the 1969-70 Topps issue (#20).  You can often find a solid example for under $50 but the oversized cards are tough to find in graded, mint condition.

Larry Bird- 1980-1981 Topps

The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time Larry-bird-rookie-178x300

Winning three titles when it was all said and done, Larry Bird’s legend is reflected in the price of his rookie card. First featured in the oddly perforated 1980-81 Topps set, Bird is pictured on the same card with Magic Johnson and Julius Erving.

The card also counts as a Magic Johnson rookie card which of course, only drives up the value more.  The Bird-Magic rookie card is on the list of the most popular basketball cards of all-time.

A graded, mint 9 Bird-Magic rookie card can exceed $1,500 while a PSA 8 (nm/mt) will run close to $400.  Larry Bird cards are still among the most collected, more than 20 years after his retirement.

Paul Pierce-1998-1999 SP Authentic

The Best Celtics Rookie Cards of All Time Pierce-rookie-card-176x300

More recently, Paul Pierce stole the show for the Boston Celtics, although he is no longer with the team. Spending much of his NBA career in green, the Celtics first round draft pick back in the 1998 NBA draft played for the team until the end of the 2012-2013 season.

That same year Pierce was drafted, he was featured on a wide variety of rookie cards, although the most notable one is the SP Authentic edition in which the cards are numbered to 3500 (#100).

Considered a rare find, they are still much cheaper than any of the cards previously mentioned. While a PSA 9 typically goes for about $50, finding a non-graded or slightly lower grade version would bring the price down.



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Post by Sloopjohnb on Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:38 pm

I remember that TOPS series represented by the posted John Havlicek card.  The little drawn figures of basketball players (white guys!!!) in the corners, the player posed  wearing a jersey with his number but no individual or team name that looks like it was put on backwards.

I must have had hundreds of those cards. I'm pretty sure I had the John Havlciek card in the post.  I'm sure many others had the experience of moving out of mom and dad's and returning to visit to find out that mom had cleaned out all the clutter of your accumulated junk including the basketball cards.

Of the hundreds of cards I had, the only survivors of the mom purge were of Henry Finkel, Bill Hewitt, a LA journeyman who Hondo feasted on, and Sweet Lou Hudson.

Thanks for the memories, Bob.


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Post by RosalieTCeltics on Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:54 pm

I have so many boxes of cards, baseball, basketball, even some football in my cellar in plastic tote boxes. My son was a collector, there are sets, upon sets. Especially basketball.

Barry Bonds rookie cards, Mark McGwire rookie cards. The miniute they broke the records, I tried to get him to go up and sell them.

Oh no, Mom, they are worth so much!!! Now, nothing! But the memories of watching him go thru those cards day after day.
I know there are probably not John Havlicek cards as he was born in 1975, but I can remember him dragging his dad (ha ha, didn't take much dragging, I guarantee you), and see him come home with Isaih Thomas rookie card and he was thrilled. Michael Jordan cards, unreal.

The bottom fell out of the value of these cards, but the memories are there.


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