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LeBron James Rookie Cards Fetch High Bids at Leland's Summer Classic Auction

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The Leland's Summer Classic Auction recently showcased two exceptional LeBron James rookie cards, drawing significant attention and commanding impressive bids from collectors.

One standout was the LeBron James 2003-04 Exquisite Collection Basketball Rookie Patch Autograph Parallel #08/23. This card, which had been securely stored in a safety deposit box for nearly 20 years, was originally purchased in November 2004 on eBay for just under $3,000. The consignor had the foresight to hold onto it until the 20th anniversary of the product's release. The Upper Deck Exquisite Collection, launched on June 4, 2004, is heralded as one of the most important basketball card products ever released, featuring an outstanding rookie class including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony.

The #78 RPA (Rookie Patch Autograph) card of LeBron is particularly iconic. It comes in two versions: the /99 Level 1 and a rare parallel numbered to his jersey number, 23, making only 23 such cards available. This scarcity solidifies its status as a prized item in the sports card world. Since July 2020, only one other card from this series has been graded by Beckett. The card in this auction, graded BGS NM+ 7.5 with an Auto grade of 10, boasts sub-grades of Centering 9.5, Edges 7.5, Corners 7, and Surface 7.5. The autograph is perfectly rendered in blue against a white background, beneath a two-color swatch. Its impeccable condition and rarity led to a final auction price of $351,029.

Another highlight was the 2003 Topps Chrome #111 LeBron James rookie card featuring a black refractor. Known for its limited print runs, LeBron's 2003 Topps Chrome rookie card is among the most iconic in NBA history. This version includes several refractor types, with the black refractor (/500) being particularly sought after. The card in the auction, graded PSA GEM MINT 10, is extremely rare, with only 21 copies (4% of the print run) achieving this grade, according to the PSA population report. The card’s black borders make it challenging to grade perfectly due to the visibility of any flaws. This specific card, numbered 326 out of 500, is a must-have for any serious LeBron James or NBA collector and sold for $126,725.

These significant sales underscore the enduring value and appeal of LeBron James' rookie cards in the sports memorabilia market.

Do you have a favorite moment from LeBron James' career that you think adds to the allure of his rookie cards?

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