Since Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls in 1998 and successfully ended the Jordan era, LeBron James has arguably been the greatest basketball player to ever step forth on the NBA court. Even if you want to make an argument for Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, or even Tim Duncan, James will always be known as “The Chosen One” for helping give the city of Cleveland its first professional sports championship since 1964.
“The King”, “The Chosen One,” “That Sprite Commercial Guy”, or however you want to nickname him, the kid from Akron, Ohio has made quite a name for himself in the National Basketball Association. His Cavaliers squad will always be known as the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, with James forever cementing his place in basketball history with “The Block” in Game 7.
LeBron James will go down as one of the Top 10 players in basketball history, but what about his merchandise? How expensive/valuable can his merchandise be on the open market? In collaboration with Upper Deck Sports, here’s a quick list of how marketable LeBron James has become in terms of sports memorabilia.
5. LeBron James Signed and Inscribed Miami Heat Away Jersey: $2,799.99
Like or hate “The Big Three,” you can’t deny how exciting it was to watch Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and James all play together down in South Beach. As great as the pairing of three were, they only won two championships as a trio. It actually might have been just one championship if a foul had been called on Manu Ginobili late in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
That being said, James was by far the best player in the NBA during his short tenure with the Heat. He signed this limited edition Adidas authentic road jersey as “Heaties.” There are only 25 editions of this jersey and signature. There are a couple more of his authentic jerseys that are worth over $2,700, which includes one where James inscribed it “2-Time NBA Finals MVP.”
4. LeBron James Autographed Figures of Sport Original Card: $2,999.99
This is a painting of LeBron James taking his talents to a playground during his era with the Miami Heat in 2011. As part of the 2011 Goodwill Champions, this was a unique figure of sports insert set to give the illusion of a three-dimensional (3D) King James image. This original card is worth over $3K after taxes by James signing the card in black pen.
3. LeBron James Autographed “Chronology Jam” Backboard $3,499.99
This autographed backboard shows LeBron in his later years with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It shows him ascending off the dribble to a thunderous dunk into the hoop. An actual breakaway rim is attached to the rim to give it a scaled version of an authentic NBA backboard. This “chronology jam” effect gives it a 3-D style, making it worth over $3,500.
2. Tim Decker Speed Painting of Lebron James $4,999.99
Famous speed painter Tim Decker painted LeBron on a 42” by 56” canvas during the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. In honor of “The Chosen One” coming back to the city adjacent to Lake Erie, LeBron posed for a portrait and signed it with a silver point pent. This is such a valuable item that it gets shipped to you in a wood crate!
1. LeBron James Autographed and Inscribed Game-Used Nike Shoes $9,999.99
Remember the famous scene from The Sandlot where Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez puts on his PF Flyers before he decides to jump over the fence and grab the Babe Ruth-autographed baseball away from the beast? There’s also a great episode of Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide where Ned tries his hardest to claim the newest Carmelo Anthony-autographed sneakers from the middle school’s lost and found.
The moral of the story? Sneakers matter. Now there is no proof that LeBron’s game-used sneakers can help get a baseball from a “ferocious dog”, but they sure do cost a lot. These sneakers are his game-worn shoes when he played for the Miami Heat. When he finally retires, his game-worn shoes for his first and last-ever NBA games might be worth more than $10,000, but for now, his Heat days seem to be the most marketable. Sorry [not sorry] Cleveland sports fans!