The Best Larry Bird Rookie Cards: Guide, and Buying/Selling Advice

Larry Bird ​​played for the Boston Celtics during his entire professional career (13 seasons), leading them to five NBA finals appearances and three NBA championships (1981, 1984, and 1986).

Best known for his rivalry with Magic Johnson, they led basketball back into the national consciousness as they drew massive audiences which have been sustained into the present day. 

Here’s a roundup with a trio of the best Larry Bird rookie cards, along with a guide looking at their investment potential.

The Best Larry Bird Rookie Cards

A variety of Larry Bird rookie cards are found in 1980 Topps Basketball sets, using a multi-player design that splits the cards into three segments. 

3. 1980-81 Topps Basketball #47 Scott May, #30 Larry Bird, #232 Jack Sikma (eBay)

1980-81 Topps Basketball #47 Scott May, #30 Larry Bird, #232 Jack Sikma

For the first 1980 Topps Basketball card to make the list, Bird is found in the middle, flanked by Scott May and Jack Sikma. (The former went on to play in Europe after struggling with injuries, while Sikma was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.)

In terms of the perforated design, it’s worth noting that cards that have been detached are considered to be damaged and are seen as being in Poor condition. Bird is pictured in a close-up action shot. 

The team/player name is found at the base of the card, and it’s the same font that was used in the 1978 Topps baseball set.

2. 1980-81 Topps Basketball #34 Larry Bird, #164 Bill Cartwright, #23 John Drew (eBay)

1980-81 Topps Basketball #34 Larry Bird, #164 Bill Cartwright, #23 John Drew

Once again, Bird is joined by two players, this time Bill Cartwright and John Drew respectively. 

Cartwright is a three-time NBA champion as a player, while Drew is a two-time All-Star who became the first player to be banned by NBA commissioner David Stern for multiple violations of the league’s new substance abuse policy in 1986. 

Bird is found on the left, in a similar design to the famous RC seen below. Of course, it pales in comparison if you’re looking at sale prices. 

1. 1980-81 Topps Basketball #34 Larry Bird RC, #174 Julius Erving, Magic Johnson RC #139 (eBay)

1980-81 Topps Basketball #34 Larry Bird RC, #174 Julius Erving, Magic Johnson RC #139

For the best Larry Bird RC, look no further than the 1980 Topps card he shares with none other than Magic Johnson. The 6’9 duo are joined by Julius Erving, who was an NBA champion in his own right. 

The star power emanating from this card is enough to see prices rising into the stratosphere, with recent sales including a PSA 9 copy going for $24,211. It’s not bad for a pack which originally cost 25 cents. 

One minor flaw is that the backs are fairly basic since there is so little space, but you’ll have to make do if you want to add the best Larry Bird RC to your personal collection.

Buy PSA graded 1980 Topps Larry Bird RCs on eBay

Larry Bird Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide 

Bird was found in five cards in the 1980 set, to go along with the RC he shares with Magic Johnson. We’ve listed each one below, along with links for PSA copies. 

The Best Cheap Larry Bird Rookie Cards

There are lots of affordable Larry Bird rookie cards if you make sure to avoid the one he shares with Magic Johnson. For example, ungraded copies of the alternatives mentioned above can sell for as little as $25. In any case, you’re spoiled for choice. 

The Best Larry Bird Investment Card

The 1980 Bird/Johnson RC is the best you’ll find by a wide margin if you’re looking for investment options. A key rookie card for both players, there are just 22 PSA 10 copies, with one recently selling for $799,500. There are 615 PSA 9 grades at the current time of writing, with the last card going for $22,322.22. 

Larry Bird Rookie Cards: Buying/Selling Advice

Bird is the only person in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, NBA Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year. 

He’s a true legend of the sport, and helped to pave the way for superstars like Michael Jordan in the future. 

As a retired Hall of Famer, his cards have to be seen as a safer investment option than most, especially if you’re looking at the best graded versions of the card he shares with Johnson.  

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