Dirk Nowitzki is a 14-time All-Star, a 12-time All-NBA Team member, and famously led the Dallas Mavericks to their only NBA title.
He holds franchise career records in points, rebounds (11,489), 3-pointers (1,982), blocks (1,281), field goals (11,169), and games played (1,522).
Nowitzki retired in April 2019 and stayed with the Mavericks for his entire career, making him the only NBA player to spend 21 seasons with one team.
Given the incredible career Nowitzki had, there is no doubt he will be a first-ballot inductee in the Hall of Fame, so it’s caused interest in his most valuable RCs to pick up rapidly.
Here’s what you need to know about the 10 best Dirk Nowitzki rookie cards to collect.
The Best Dirk Nowitzki Rookie Cards
Nowitzki was drafted in 1998-99, ninth overall before being traded to the Mavs.
10. 1998-99 Flair Showcase Class of 98 Dirk Nowitzki RC #9 (eBay)
The 1998-99 Flair Showcase collection has a number of Nowitzki RCs which are worthy of a place on this list. There are progressively tougher Row 3, Row 2 and Row 1 cards in the case set, but we’re looking at the Class of 98 insert which is numbered to 500 copies. It features a simple shot of the rookie as he glides through the air.
9. 1998-99 Topps Draft Redemption Dirk Nowitzki RC #9 (eBay)
Randomly inserted in series one packs at a rate of one in 18, this 29-card set features a redemption for the players drafted in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft.
Draft Redemptions tend to be a bit rarer than your average card, and this Topps release is no exception. It features a strong action shot of Nowitzki as he dribbles along the court, with a sleek chrome finish.
8. 1998-99 Upper Deck Ovation Dirk Nowitzki RC #79 (eBay)
The Upper Deck 1998-99 Ovation RC is another which is unlikely to break the bank, but it has a distinctive design which helps it to stand out from the crowd.
The circled border is supposed to represent a basketball, while it also has a textured finish to make it feel more like the real deal. The base version is perfect if you’d like a cheaper graded Nowitzki RC to add to your collection, while there’s also a Gold foil parallel limited to 1,000 copies.
- Parallels: Gold (/1000)
7. 1998-99 Stadium Club Dirk Nowitzki RC #109 (eBay)
The 1998-99 Stadium Club Dirk Nowitzki RC is next up.
One of the few Nowitzki rookie cards to come with a selection of rare parallels, we’ve included an image of the One of a Kind variation below. This RC is another Redemption, having been included in Series 1 Stadium Club packs.
- Parallels: First Day Issue (/200), One of a Kind (/150), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1)
6. 1998-99 Topps Finest Refractor Dirk Nowitzki RC #234 (eBay)
The 1998-99 Topps Finest release features Nowitzki in a slightly stiff pose, but it’s another that’ll sell for a serious sum if you manage to locate a pristine graded copy of the Refractor parallel.
One issue of note is the protective film found on some copies of the base cards. “No Protector” versions were inserted in packs as parallels for both the base versions and its Refractor. In terms of which is better to collect, it tends to be a matter of personal preference.
- Parallels: Refractor
5. 1998-99 Fleer Brilliants Dirk Nowitzki RC #109 (eBay)
For a small print run, and a vintage feel, 1998-99 Fleer Brilliants is one of the best places to look.
Nowitzki has a stern look on his face in this RC, clutching a basketball in a posed profile shot. Base and Blue versions of the card are numerous, but there are a couple of Gold parallels which work out to be some of the most valuable overall.
- Parallels: Blue, Gold (/99), 24-Karat Gold (/24)
4. 1998-99 Bowman’s Best Dirk Nowitzki RC #109 (eBay)
Nowitzki’s Bowman’s Best RC is one of the toughest to locate if you’re looking at the Atomic Refractor parallel which is limited to 100 copies. (Even base versions were released at a rate of 1:4, which was reasonably rare at the time.)
It features a great action shot of the Mavs player as he leaps towards the rim. We think that the parallels are some of the more underrated options from an investment perspective.
- Parallels: Refractors (/400), Atomic Refractors (/100)
3. 1998-99 Topps Chrome Dirk Nowitzki RC #154 (eBay)
Topps Chrome is one of the best places to look for NBA RCs, even if the 1998-99 set is solely restricted to unnumbered Refractors.
This was the third year in which Topps Chrome NBA cards were released, and Nowitzki is featured in an awkward shot with both feet off the ground. PSA 10 versions of the base card are fairly valuable, with a current pop list of just 167. As for the Refractor, there are only 12.
- Parallels: Refractors
2. 1998-99 SPx Finite Dirk Nowitzki RC #219 /2500 (eBay)
With a print run of 2,500, 1998-99 SPx is still one of the best Nowitzki rookie cards on the market.
It might seem like a large number, but it’s minuscule compared to the sets released during the first half of the decade. There aren’t as many copies as you might have expected, and the design makes it easily recognisable.
Meanwhile, there’s a duo of parallels, from the more affordable Radiance (2,500), to Spectrum with a print run of just 25.
- Parallels: Radiance(/1500), Spectrum (/25)
1. 1998-99 SP Authentic Dirk Nowitzki RC #99 /3500 (eBay)
The 1998-99 SP Authentic RC might have a print run of 3,500 and no parallels to speak of, but it’s still one of the most popular Nowitzki rookie cards ever. After all, it was a high-end release back in the late 1990’s, despite the lack of an auto or patch.
Some of the design choices are slightly questionable, such as a basic serial number added to the front at the bottom of the card. However, it’s still an understated option, and that’s reflected in the overall asking price for PSA 10 graded copies.
Dirk Nowitzki: Buyers Guide
Here’s what we think of the current state of the market for the future Hall of Famer.
The Best Cheap Dirk Nowitzki Rookie Cards
Nowitzki is a decent pick if you’re looking for cheaper NBA RCs from the late 1990’s, but there are still a number of quality cards if you stick with graded copies. As for ungraded versions, the 1998-99 SPx Finite Radiance parallel is a good place to start, and it has a print run of 1,500. (Remember, that’s good for the time.)
The Best Dirk Nowitzki Investment Rookie Card
The best investment card has to be one of the rare numbered parallels, although the base 1999 SP Authentic RC is another solid card to collect.
Dirk Nowitzki Rookie Cards: Buying/Selling Advice
There’s an abundance of Nowitzki rookie cards to collect, including a number of options which failed to make the list. However, there’s a decent buzz surrounding Nowitzki’s very best RCs, especially as he looks to be certain to join the Hall of Fame.
We think that Nowitzki’s cards are some of the better collectibles from the late 1990s, and that they should be seen as a good long-term investment option.
For more 1990’s basketball cards, check out the best 1997-98 Platinum Portraits.