Often the smallest player on the court, Allen Iverson undoubtedly made his presence known as one of the most lethal scorers in NBA history.
Nicknamed “The Answer,” he scored more than 24,000 points, recorded over 5,000 assists, and was named an All-NBA performer seven times. He also won the regular season scoring title four times (1999, 2001, 2002, 2005).
Here’s a roundup with five of the best Allen Iverson rookie cards to collect, including rare parallels and valuable options.
The Best Allen Iverson Rookie Cards
Released in 1996-97, there are sixteen Allen Iverson rookie cards, not including inserts or parallels. For base versions, we’ll be looking at PSA 10 graded copies.
5. 1996-97 UD3 Allen Iverson RC #14 (eBay)
The first AI rookie card to make the list is found in the Hardwood Prospects subset in 1996-97 UD3. A unique background used ‘Wood-Cel technology’ to great effect, giving the card a gloss finish that is more reminiscent of the natural resource. A premium option when it was first released, the card is reasonably priced at the current time of writing. (You should be able to find PSA 10 copies for less than $70.)
4. 1996-97 Flair Showcase Row 2 Allen Iverson RC #3 (eBay)
1996-97 Flair Showcase features three rows, with Row 0 being the rarest. There’s also a sole parallel, with the Legacy Collection limited to 150 copies. The Row 2 card, which is seen in the image above, tends to be the most popular version as it’s the first Iverson RC included in the set. It features multiple images of the rookie, and it uses a full-bleed design. Expect to pay a premium for pristine versions.
3. 1996-97 Finest Allen Iverson RC #69 (eBay)
Another famous set, 1995-96 Finest features a simple action shot of Iverson, included as one of the apprentices. Once again, Refractors are the main chase element, alongside a sticker on the front.
The cards came with a protective layer of film, and many collectors prefer unpeeled versions. It’s meant to ensure that cards stay in mint condition, as the finish is especially prone to scratching. A pristine copy with the film intact is the most valuable combination.
2. 1996-97 E-X2000 Allen Iverson RC #53 (eBay)
The 1996-97 E-X2000 Basketball Allen Iverson RC earns a high billing on this list due to the Credentials parallel seen above. Numbered to 499 copies, it’s a meager print run considering the era. (It sells for a premium as one of the rarest options overall.) The base copy is purple, while the Credentials parallel changes up the color scheme. It features a blue sky background, and is finished with a gold chrome trim.
1. 1996-97 Topps Chrome Allen Iverson RC #171 (eBay)
Look no further than the flagship 1996-97 Topps Chrome Allen Iverson rookie card if you’re aiming to collect the best option. Rather than the base version, we’d recommend checking out the Refractor parallel, which is identifiable thanks to the shiny finish.
The set is famous thanks to one of the NBA’s strongest rookie classes of all-time, including Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen. It also happens to be one of the rarer AI rookie cards, despite the lack of a serial number.
Allen Iverson Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
What do we think of the current market for the best Allen Iverson rookie cards?
With 16 base Allen Iverson rookie cards, and additional parallels and inserts, there’s something to suit almost every budget. Base cards are still extremely affordable in the present, likely due to the massive print runs seen during the late 1990’s. The same goes for lower grades.
One again, the 1996-97 Topps Chrome Allen Iverson rookie card would be our personal pick, as long as you’re looking at the Refractor version. It is a chase card from one of the most famous sets within the hobby.
Allen Iverson Rookie Cards: Final Thoughts
Iverson is one of the more recognisable names from his era, and recorded ridiculous numbers during his 14-year career. The 2001 MVP, prices for his top options have continued to rise with no sign of stopping.
A Hall of Famer in the class of 2016, he retired in 2013, saying:
“I gave everything I had to basketball,” Iverson said at the Wells Fargo Center. “The passion is still there but the desire to play is not. It was a great ride.”
His impact on the sport was massive, especially with younger fans. He was one of the biggest draws in the NBA and his popularity led Reebok to sign him to a lifetime contract. With many of his fans now having a lot of disposable income, his RCs are a decent investment option.