To be fully transparent I am a lifelong Boston Celtics fan and proud owner of this card:
With that being said, I was doing some research yesterday on CardLadder and man, Paul “The Truth” Pierce does not get much love from the sports card hobby! Check this out:
So CardLadder values this 1998 Paul Pierce Topps Chrome Rookie Card in PSA 10 grade at about $393, and the current population is 211. Here’s where it gets wacky:
In the same exact card set the Vince Carter Topps Chrome Rookie in PSA 10 grade is valued at about $554…AND the population is over double at 421! Anybody that knows anything about NBA basketball will tell you that Paul Pierce had a much better career than Vince Carter. Pierce won a Championship in 2008 and won the Finals MVP! Vince Carter never won anything in his entire career. He never even came close. Vince was much more physically gifted and athletic than Pierce but he never reached his full potential in the NBA. In a perfect world, the Pierce card, at half the population, would be at least double the value of the Vince card. And here’s one more example of this blatant hobby disregard of “The Truth”:
Ok, I will readily admit that Dirk had a better career than Pierce…but not that much better! In this same set his 1998 Topps Chrome Rookie in PSA 10 is valued at about $2,400, with a population of 155. So his value is 6-times that of Pierce, with only a tad lower population. That makes no sense! And no offense to Dirk but that is one goofy looking image. Look how much cooler the Pierce card photo is!
Conclusion & Sports Card Investing Lesson
Paul Pierce is not currently getting the respect he deserves in the sports card collecting hobby, Yes, BUT no one ever said the hobby is fair or always has to make real-world sense. Paul Pierce has 2 things working against him here. The first is hype. Although he had a better career than Vince Carter, Vince always had more hype. People remember the time Vince dunked over the 7-footer in the Olympics and the greatest dunk contest performance ever in 2000. Heck, even I remember where I was during that. Pierce never had those moments. Even when he won Finals MVP in 2008, people outside of Boston remember the Garnett “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE” moment over that.
The second is being just shy of Legendary Status. He is a legend in Boston, but not nationally or worldwide, like Dirk Nowitzki and others. For a player’s sports cards to reach the upper tiers in value after they’re done playing, they need to be widely considered a legend, outside of just the geographical areas they played in. Dirk isn’t in the highest NBA tiers with Kobe, LeBron, MJ, Bird and Magic, but he’s higher than Pierce. And each level you go up, it’s a huge multiplier of many times over in card values.
So although it pains me to say it, I hereby coin the term “The Paul Pierce Zone” for players in the sports card hobby that fall into this situation of not quite enough hype and just barely not reaching broad Legend-status, despite a great Hall-Of-Fame career. Unless you plan on never selling your cards, beware of investing in players in “The Paul Pierce Zone.” I leave you with these 2 pictures I personally took at the Celtics 2008 Championship Parade. Long Live The Truth!