After dominating the NBA in February to the tune of a 9-2 record, the Cleveland Cavs have hit a proverbial wall in March. They're 6-10 heading into Friday night's game against the 76ers.
Despite the underwheming production on the court, the negative press has done nothing to hurt LeBron James' memorabilia prices.
2003-04 LeBron James Upper Deck Rookie Auto
Goldin Auctions is currently accepting bids on one of King James' rarest rookie cards. This 2003-04 LeBron James Upper Deck "Exquisite Collection" autographed card is highly sought after for several reasons.
First, the card is serial numbered 23/75. It's proven that the most enthusiastic hobby collectors will spend more money on a serial numbered card if it matches the player's jersey number.
Second, the patch is three colors and, more importantly, it's a game used patch. More modern cards come with caveats of "event worn" or "player worn" that diminish some of the relic's appeal.
Third, it's graded by PSA, which in addition to providing some context to the condition of the card, collectors know it's authentic.
Plus, you get this box!
With a little over a day remaining, 12 bids have pushed the price to $36,000. The card is expected to fetch north of $50,000, but don't worry, you also get to keep the hardwood display case! How can you beat that deal?!
Upper Deck's leverage
Most casual fans are shocked to learn that Upper Deck still retains exclusive autograph deals with James, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and recently added Philadephia Sixers' prospect Ben Simmons.
However, Panini owns exclusive NBA licensing rights.
In other words, you can't currently get LeBron James autographed cards in his Cleveland Cavs jersey or Michael Jordan in his Chicago Bulls gamer.
These ever-evolving brand wars also help jack up the secondary market for memorabilia with James' and company signatures.
You might remember ...
Last September, Goldin Auctions hosted James' Holy Grail, the 2003-2004 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection 1/1 NBA logoman rookie auto. That gem sold for $312,000 after buyers premium.
So, while the Cavs have some work to do to reach the NBA Finals for a third consecutive season, LeBron's image and brand appeal continue to chalk up "W's" off the court.