“The Redeem Team” was the nickname for the 2008 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. Recently, a documentary was released on Netflix which followed the team on their quest for the Gold medal. The backstory detailed how the team was completely embarrassed in 2004 after earning the Bronze medal in a sport that had historically been dominated by the USA, even more so since professionals from the NBA began playing in 1992 (a team led by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird known as “The Dream Team”).
What made the 2008 team different from its predecessor?
His famous quote upon joining the team: “I’m tired of watching ya’ll lose.”
His work ethic and mindset immediately infected the whole team. One night when the younger players like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony were coming in from a night out at the clubs, Kobe crossed paths with them in the lobby on his way to his first workout of the morning.
They all looked at each other and realized he was built different. His tenacity inspired them to work harder. The film also shows how both ‘Alpha males’, Kobe and LeBron, put aside any pride that might typically have them competing to be the only leader and instead worked together for the good of the team.
Team USA went home victorious with the Gold medal that year, outlasting a tough experienced team from Spain in the final game. I highly recommend the documentary to any NBA fans that haven’t seen it yet; you can check it out on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81452996
While watching this documentary, I instantly started thinking of sports cards (surprise!!). I wondered what Team USA cards would be the most valuable investments. After some in-depth sales data analysis from eBay, what I found out was very interesting.
As you’d expect, the GOATs have some very cool cards worth checking out. Players like Lebron James, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant headline the list. For this article, I will focus on those that were featured in the Redeem Team documentary, LeBron and Kobe. I have compiled notable cards for each player below based on rarity, affordability, and my own subjective cool factor 🤷♂️.
- Most Expensive (Recently Sold for $835):
2014 Select Lebron James Courtside USA Basketball Copper Prizm #212 /49 PSA 10
- Most Affordable (Can be found around $100 in PSA 10):
2004 Skybox Team USA Basketball Lebron James #USAB PSA 10 GEM MINT
- Cool Factor (I just like it, OK! PSA 10 can be had around $150):
LEBRON JAMES PSA 10 2012 PANINI PRIZM BASKETBALL #3 TEAM USA GEM
- Most Expensive (Recently sold for around $650):
2014 Select Kobe Bryant Courtside USA Basketball Copper Prizm #209 /49
- Most Affordable (Can be found around $150 in PSA 10):
2015-16 Prizm Team USA Kobe Bryant No.11 PSA 10
- Cool Factor (Another beauty from the same set as the Lebron – PSA 9 can be had for $80):
KOBE BRYANT 2012 Panini Prizm Team USA #11 PSA 9
An interesting development when looking through the ebay sales data was the outlier cards I found that were garnering pretty high prices. It seems I had stumbled upon a set that collectors were trying to complete in PSA 10 grades. That set: the 1991 Skybox Team USA Dream Team inserts.
Most exciting was finding rare cards and commons that have unusually high demand for that era. The Clyde “The Glide” Drexler redemption card is highly rare – sold recently for over $3,000 in PSA 10 grade.
The PJ Carlesimo common consistently sold for $350+ in PSA 10 grade. Pretty impressive considering some Michael Jordan and Lebron cards are only hovering around the $150 range in the same grade!
These outliers and how pop culture documentaries spike interest in sub-niches like Team USA basketball cards are what make collecting sports cards so much fun. For me, the thrill of the hunt is in finding the rare cards that are flying under the radar – that’s where the magic happens! My goal is to keep you all in the loop on what I’m finding so you can take advantage as well.
Happy collecting and investing!