15 Rare and Vintage Basketball Jerseys Worth Collecting
Jersey’s are one of the most common ways that fans show their love and passion for a team. And oftentimes, fans end up collecting a slew of jerseys from a specific team through various players.
A lot of collectors enjoy a sport so much that they often try to find vintage or rare jerseys. This is the same for basketball. There are several unique, rare and vintage basketball jerseys that will make a collector want to search far and wide to snag up one.
If that is you and want to find some of the more rare and valuable vintage basketball jerseys, check out this list of some of the most unique ones.
Why Are Vintage Jerseys Worth So Much?
The biggest reason that some jerseys cost so much is because of the name associated with the jersey, whether that’s the player or the team.
If you’re looking to purchase a jersey with a popular, well-known player, then you’ll likely have to spend a bit more money. Or if you’re wanting to purchase a jersey from one of the best teams in the sport, it’ll be a bit pricier. The same goes with vintage basketball jerseys.
With popular players and teams, you’ll need to spend some money to get them. And like the ones listed below, the ones that are a bit rarer because they are a bit older than you might thing, they can cost a hefty fee to get ahold of.
How to Know if a Jersey Is Authentic?
There are several ways that you can pick up if a jersey is authentic or fake. The first thing you might want to check is just the overall look of it. Depending on the color, fonts, spelling, and design, you might be able to find areas that do not match the authentic jersey. If you want any reference points, you can look at websites like Basketball Jersey Archive that give you a clear image of what you’re looking for.
Next, you’ll want to find the tag inside the jersey for size, materials and care instructions. You can also try to find the official club or manufacturer’s tags, holograms or unique serial numbers. Usually, you can find information online to determine the manufacturer of a jersey.
Stitching is another great way to tell if a jersey is fake or not. If you know how a jersey is stitched together, then that might an easier way to know figure out if something is fake. For instance, Nike Swingman jersey lettering and numbers are screen printed on while Adidas Swingman and Nike Authentic are twill stitched. Fraying will also happen more often and easier on fake jerseys.
Rare and Vintage Basketball Jerseys
15. Orlando Magic (1989-1994)
First on the list for rare vintage basketball jerseys is the Orlando Magic with their pinstripe jerseys.
The home game is white with blue accents and stripes, while the away one is black with white and blue accents and stripes. In 1994, the black jersey turned into an alternative jersey while a blue jersey became the away jersey which had white accents and stripes.
The team started in 1989 as an expansion team and had several notable stars like Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill and more.
14. Portland Trailblazers (1976)
This incredible rare vintage basketball jersey was with the Portland Trailblazers for only one season in 1976 and was their away jersey. The jersey is bright red with white lettering on the side vertically, a retro look into the teams’ jerseys.
The Portland Trailblazers began as an expansion team in 1970 and started out pretty strong from 1977 through 1995 where they sold out 814 consecutive home games, one of the longest streaks in any professional sport at the time. With such a popular team at the time, no wonder this jersey is one of the fan favorites for vintage jerseys, and one that any collector would want to get their hands on.
13. Los Angeles Lakers (1960-1967)
The Los Angeles Lakers are known for their yellow and purple jerseys, which makes their royal blue ones that much rarer.
With their away games featuring these royal blue jerseys with white lettering, and their home games having the inverse of the one shown, these jerseys are some of the best finds for anyone collecting vintage basketball jerseys. With their franchise beginning in 1947 when the Detroit Gems, a disbanded team was purchased.
The new team began as the Minneapolis Lakers and then soon changed over to the Los Angeles Lakers when they moved before the 1960-61 season. Several incredible names came from the Lakers such as Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal just to name a few. With that being said, having a jersey from his team is a reward in itself.
12. Denver Nuggets (1985-1989)
This is a personal favorite of mine and is also one of the best vintage basketball jerseys that collectors can grab. There have been several variations of this jersey.
What started as a green and white alternating jersey from 1982 to 1985, to the one shown above with white and yellow and blue, which went from 1985 to 1989, to a similar looking one by Champion in 1989 to 1993, to an even more recent variation made by Nike in 2018 to 2019. These jerseys not only pop out, but are one of the best, most valuable vintage basketball jerseys you can find.
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11. Miami Heat (1997-1999)
We’ve seen a lot of home and away jerseys, but what about alternates? The Miami Heat’s alternate jersey from 1997 to 1999 is one of the best vintage jerseys that you can find. With such a short time with the team, it’s one of the rarer ones as well, making it the perfect addition to any collection.
Miami Heat began in 1988 season as an expansion team, and like most expansion teams, didn’t do so well at the start. The team gained relevance in the mid-1990s when Pat Riely became team president and head coach, which helped propel them to the playoffs.
10. Chicago Bulls (1979-1985)
An iconic and beloved jersey belongs to the Chicago Bulls and features a red jersey with Chicago in cursive black lettering. These jerseys are cool, classy, and are one of the most well-known vintage basketball jerseys. The jersey lasted eight seasons as the away jersey.
The NBA team saw one of their greatest successes during the 1990s and are known as having one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history, winning six NBA championships between 1991 and 1998. However, due to this, this jersey is quite rare, as the one after this jersey is much more popular and more sought after, therefore, any collector would want to get their hands on this jersey.
9. Atlanta Hawks (1982-1992)
This jersey spanned over ten years and seasons for the Atlanta Hawks and is one of the best vintage basketball jerseys that collectors should try and snag up for themselves.
The origins of the team are traced back to the establishment of the Buffalo Bisons in 1946. When the team moved to Moline, Illinois, they were renamed the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. In 1949, they joined the NBA as a merger between the NBL and the BAA.
Then, in 1951, the team moved to Milwaukee, where they changed to Milwaukee Hawks, but moved again in 1955 to St. Louis where they were the St. Louis Hawks but ended up at their final and current destination in Atlanta in 1968 and are now the Atlanta Hawks, who have one of the best vintage basketball jerseys. The home one is shown above with a white jersey and a red swoop, almost like a Hawks beak, across the chest. And of course, the away jersey in an inverse of the home one.
8. Pheonix Suns (1992-2000)
Not many jerseys last as long as the Pheonix Sun’s vintage basketball jersey. Over the span of 8 years, this jersey was worn by the team.
The franchise began in 1968 as an expansion team and were seen as mediocre, however, in the 1970s their fates changed after partnering with Dick Van Arsdale and Alvan Adams with Paul Westphal. One of their best vintage basketball jerseys is the one from 1992 to 2000s.
The home one was a white jersey with purple lettering and a basketball shooting across, and the away one is purple with white lettering, showing the same basketball moving across the chest.
7. Utah Jazz (1996-2000s)
Utah Jazzz is an NBA team based in Salt Lake City but began as an expansion team in the 1974-75 season as the New Orleans Jass. And like most expansion teams, they struggled at the beginning.
The Jazz were one of the least successful teams in the league in their early years. However, around the 1980s, they begun to get their groove, and after their first appearance in the playoffs in 1984, they didn’t miss one playoffs until 2004. Within that time frame, they produced one of the most popular vintage basketball jersey’s that collectors should try to get their hands on, the Utah Jazz Mountain Jersey.
Their home jersey features a white jersey with purple mountains, and their away one was purple with white and blue mountains.
6. Toronto Raptors (1997-1999)
One of the most iconic jerseys in NBA history has to be from Toronto Raptors, the Canadian professional basketball team based in Toronto.
The Raptors struggled in their early years, but thanks to the help of Vince Carter through a draft-day trade in 1998, the franchise set league-attendance records and made the NBA playoffs in 2000, 2001, and 2002.
But during their struggling seasons, they produced the best jersey that collectors should have, the 1997 jersey that is white with purple accents with a red dinosaur for the home jersey, and an away jersey with all purple and a red dino.
5. Washington Bullets (1993-1994)
The team was first established in 1961 as the Chicago Packers in Chicago, Illinois, but were then renamed as the Chicago Zephyrs in the following season. 1963, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland and became the Baltimore Bullets, but soon changed their name to Captial Bullets when moving to Washington in 1973, and then Washington Bullets the following season.
In 1997, however, they rebranded themselves as the Wizards, which is their current name. With such a long history of their team, having a retro jersey from the 1990s is an incredible addition to any collection. One of the best vintage basketball jersey’s that you could snag up would be their vintage Washington Bullets jersey.
4. Seattle Supersonic (1985-1995)
The Seattle Supersonic home or road jersey from 1985-1995 is very difficult to find, and more difficult if it is a Detlef Schrempf version. The home jersey was green with yellow lettering while the road uniform was white with green lettering.
The color combination made these jerseys unique and attractive. While you can find many of these listed on eBay and Amazon, they are not originals.
After having some good seasons between 1980 and 1986, the Bucks decided to make changes to their uniform (and roster).
However, the team struggled on the court between 86 and 93. And ironically these jerseys became very rare because of the bad performance of the team. Plus, they were rarely sold outside Wisconsin and so only a few had their hands on them.
Due to the decrease in demand, only a few Milwaukee Bucks Home and Road jerseys were produced and few of them remain today.
2. Indiana Pacer (1990-1997)
The 1990 to 1997 version of the Indiana Pacers jersey is the favorite uniform amongst collectors. The jersey is nicknamed the ‘FloJo Jersey’ because it was designed by track star Florence Griffith Joyner.
This jersey embodied two prominent stripes on the left side of the upper and lower garments and was widened out to make a triangle. The home jersey was white and the road one blue. This jersey proved to be a lucky charm for the Indiana Pacers, evident from their records during these seasons.
1. Philadelphia 76ers (1991-1994)
During three seasons from 1991 to 1994, the Philadelphia 76ers jersey was redesigned by Champion Products and marked the departure from their classic jerseys.
For some reason, the new jerseys were not appreciated by fans, resulting in no demand and low production. The background of the jersey remained red while in the front a multi-color star was featured in front of a royal blue field that curved up from the shorts.
These jerseys are very hard to find in a good condition as there were only a few who bought them back in the 90s.
For collectors that need more rare vintage basketball jerseys in their collection but have no idea where to start, these are some of the best examples that you could grab. Whether you’re a fan of the sport in general, or have a specific team in mind, these are some of the most iconic and best options.
From well-known teams that have a plethora of amazing players in their roster, to teams that started off a little bumpy but skyrocketed their way to victory, these vintage basketball jerseys are the best.