In 1998, Upper Deck and Chevrolet curiously teamed up for a regional basketball card promotion bringing together fans of Michael Jordan and classy Chevy Blazer drivers.
Buy A Car, Get Some Cards
Upper Deck produced an exclusive 2-card set for Chevrolet dealers in and around Chicago. The catch was simple enough. You buy a new 1998 Chevy Blazer and you are awarded one of the two Upper Deck Michael Jordan basketball cards. Keep in mind that in 1998, a brand new Blazer would run you $25,000, so unless you had a plug at a dealership, owning both Jordan Upper Deck cards would cost you $50,000 and garage space for two ugly Chevy vehicles.
The thing about these cards is since they were only available in one city and not found in packs or anywhere else, they were immediately considered rare and valuable. The problem was no one knew about the cards and unfortunately for Chevy, not many Blazers were sold in 1998. Word is that most dealerships kept boxes of these cards around for several months, even years as they gathered dust but eventually most, if not all of them ended up in a dumpster on the way to a landfill.
Are these the rarest MJ Cards Ever?
Let’s also keep in mind not a damn soul in the world would buy a Blazer just for a Michael Jordan basketball card so the few that were given out, were not kept in the greatest condition. That makes these cards extremely rare, highly valuable, and condition sensitive, meaning it’s very likely if you do find one, it will never be a perfect “gem mint”. Despite their lackluster design and lowly origins, collectors still love all things Michael Jordan. As of October 19th, 2023, there are just two copies available on eBay. One has an asking price of $5,000, while the other can be considered a “steal” at $2,000.
One final note on the Jordan/Chevy cards of 1998; if you were lucky enough to grab one with your brand new Chevy Blazer, the card granted you VIP access to ‘The Restaurant’, which was a Michael Jordan restaurant that opened in 1993 and closed just one year after the Upper Deck cards were produced in 1999. ‘
Nobody Puts MJ In The Corner
As for The Restaurant, it was a lovely place with great reviews but very troubled behind the scenes. Jordan licensed his name to Joe and Gene Silverberg, who then spent $6 million on construction. Unfortunately, trouble began in 1997 when Jordan opened his own competing restaurant and the Silverberg brothers went to the press to complain that MJ hardly ever made any appearances (or ate) at their location.
In 1999, the Silverberg brothers announced plans to renovate The Restaurant and name it ‘Sammy Sosa’s Restaurant’, while also moving Jordan’s section to a much smaller building. MJ, not one to be overshadowed by anyone, asked a federal judge to terminate his contract with the Silverberg brothers and accused them of “tarnishing his image”. The Restaurant officially closed for good in December of 1999 and plans for a Sammy Sosa replacement were scrapped.
Sorry, I went on a tangent.
The entire point is, that if you had the Jordan card in 1998, you were granted VIP access to The Restaurant, which would let you make reservations ahead of regular patrons. Think of it like a Disney Fastpass.
So technically, the card was good for a new Chevy, access to Jordan’s restaurant, and if you held on to it all these years, a few thousand dollars for your trouble. Not bad for a card many collectors don’t even know exists.
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