In 1996, Karl Malone, known as the “Mailman” because he always “delivered,” was named as one of the NBA’s 50 all-time greatest players. He went on to become one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.
Malone spent his first 18 seasons (1985–2003) with the Utah Jazz, ending his career after a final year with the LA Lakers.
A two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 14-time NBA All-Star, and an 11-time member of the All-NBA first team, his total of 36,928 career points scored rank third all-time in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.
Here’s what you need to know about Karl Malone’s rookie card, as well as a great alternative option for collectors.
The Best Karl Malone Rookie Cards
There’s only one Karl Malone rookie card, as part of the famous 1986-87 Fleer Basketball set. We’ve added another rare option to look out for below.
Best Alternative Karl Malone Card: 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Karl Malone #97 (eBay)
1997-98 Skybox Metal Universe Basketball parallels are some of the most popular inserts of all-time. Malone was included in the PMG subset, which was given a luxurious foil finish which flakes away easily.
Remember, 10 PMG cards are emerald green, while the final 90 cards are ruby red, making for a total print run of 100. (It might seem high in the present, but it was hyper-rare when they were originally released.)
You’ll find the respective serial number on the reverse, and they don’t come up for sale that often. As such, it’s a viable alternative to his RC seen below.
1. 1986-87 Fleer Karl Malone RC #68 (eBay)
With only one true RC to obtain, 1986-87 Fleer Basketball is the place to look for the first ever Malone image committed to cardboard.
The 1986 Fleer collection is one of the most popular sets ever created, containing a famous Michael Jordan RC. (It’s also the most coveted Jordan collectible by a wide margin.)
Malone wasn’t included in 1985-86 Star despite joining the league in the 1985 NBA Draft. There’s also no Fleer sticker version, which is why PSA 10 versions sell for upwards of $5,000 at the current time of writing. There are 213 gem mint copies on the registry.
Karl Malone Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
Here’s what we think about the current state of the market for Karl Malone RCs.
The Best Cheap Karl Malone Rookie Cards
If you just want to add the 1986-87 Fleer Basketball card to your collection, you’re in luck as PSA 8 copies can be grabbed for roughly $150. PSA 7s sell for under $100, while ungraded versions can be found for as little as $40. As with many older cards produced in high numbers, only pristine copies are worth large amounts.
The Best Karl Malone Investment Rookie Card
PSA 10 copies of the 1986-87 Fleer Basketball card look to be a safer investment than most, and they’re not as plentiful as you might have expected.
Karl Malone Rookie Cards: Buying/Selling Advice
Malone led the unfancied Utah to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, even if losses to Michael Jordan’s Bulls and diminishing skills took a toll towards the end of his career.
He’s still a Hall of Famer who revolutionised his position, and currently sits third on the all-time scorers list (36,298 points) and leads the NBA for most field goals attempted and made.
Time has been kind to Malone, and his RC is one of the best from the era if you’d prefer to look past the likes of Jordan. In this regard, the Mailman still delivers.