Charles Barkley Rookie Cards and Other Vintage Cards


Charles Barkley Rookie Cards

Given the sheer number of cards that were produced in the 1980’s it’s hard to imagine that no major card company was making NBA cards between 1983 and 1986. Charles Barkley started his career during this time which makes identifying his rookie a little tricky. It all comes down to how you view the Star cards – a question for which opinions differ greatly. In this article I’ll walk though all the early Charles Barkley rookie cards from 1994-85 Star to the 1986-87 Fleer.

1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie Card #7

1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley - The Best Charles Barkley Rookie
1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley – The Best Charles Barkley Rookie

The Charles Barkley 1986-87 Fleer rookie card #7 is one of the gems from this classic Fleer set. It’s very valuable in mint condition and one of the key cards for any collector interested in this era. Charles Barkley is regarded as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history and he also had one of the most colorful personalities of any player to ever take the court. He achieved many accomplishments during his career including multiple All-Star selections, a league MVP award, and two Olympic gold metals.

His on-court personality and rugged style of play earned him several nicknames including “Sir Charles”, “Chuck”, and “The round mound of rebound.” After his playing career ended he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame on his first ballot appearance in 2006. Any rookie card of a Hall of Famer with his accomplishments would be valued by collectors, but there are additional factors that keep Barkley’s rookie atop collectors’ minds.

Other factors that make this card iconic:

  • Legendary Set: The 1986-87 Fleer Premier Basketball set is easily one of the greatest basketball card sets ever. It has rookie cards for Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, and Patrick Ewing just to name a few. Being in a set like this only enhances the value and collectability of a card.

  • Outspokenness: Controversy sells and Charles Barkley has never shied away from controversy. During his playing days and beyond Charles has made it a habit to say provocative things. Some people would argue that he’s crossed lines, but he seems to have a knack staying out of serious trouble while still getting lots of attention. Some players fade away after their career is over, but those who find ways to stay relevant drive the value of their collectables.

  • TV Analyst: I mentioned above that Charles Barkley is provocative, but stays out of major trouble. This made him a great TV personality in his post playing career. Fans tune in because they know they’re going to hear what Barkley really thinks. He turned his outspokenness into a brand and that makes him a great made-for-TV NBA analyst. Again, this keeps him in collectors minds and drives interest in his cards.
  • No Rings: Winning a lot of championships is good for card values, but in rare instances so is winning no championships. As current players try to get their first ring, Charles Barkley is always going to be mentioned as one of the greatest players who never won a championship. It’s a topic that is never going to go away and it ensures that Barkley is talked about and remembered as long as the sport is played.
1986-87 Fleer Basketball Cards (Pack and Box)
1986-87 Fleer Basketball Cards (Pack and Box)

1986-87 Fleer Set Details

The 1986-87 Fleer Basketball card set is the first Fleer set since 1961 and is one of the most important sets of all time. The set has a great design with the classic red, white and blue fronts with a simple back that is absent of player bios. It contains 132 cards that, because of the gap, many of which are rookie cards. The set is full of Hall of Fame rookie cards including: Charles Barkley (#7), Clyde Drexler (#26), Joe Dumars (#27), Patrick Ewing (#32), Karl Malone (#68), Chris Mullin (#77), Hakeem Olajuwon (#82), Isiah Thomas (#209), and Dominique Wilkins (#121).

Each pack of 1986-87 cards came with a sticker that featured one of 11 NBA stars. This insert set checklist included a handful of the players above, giving Jordan, Olajuwon, Thomas, and Wilkins each a 2nd 1986-87 Fleer rookie.

  • Manufacturer: Fleer
  • Year(s) Issued: 1986
  • Number Cards: 132
  • Card Size: 2 1/2″ wide x 3 1/2″ high (standard)
  • Insert Sets
    • 1986-87 Fleer Stickers
      • 11 stickers inserted 1 per pack

Card Details

  • Card no: #7 of 132
  • Name on card: Charles Barkley
  • Team: 76ers (logo)
  • Born: 02/20/63
  • Height: 6′ 6″
  • Weight: 260
  • College: Auburn University

Front of the card

Design: The front of the 1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley rookie card #7 is a classic and memorable design. The border is red white and blue horizontal stripes. The photo takes up the majority of the card and has a thin gold border around it. The fleer logo is in the upper right corner of a photo of Charles Barkley finishing a slam dunk. He’s wearing his home 76ers jersey and you can clearly see his jersey number 34. Below the photo is a blue bar that has his name, team and position.

1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie #7 - Front
1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie #7 – Front
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for the 1986-87 Charles Barkley Fleer card #7 on eBay (affiliate links)


Back of the card

The back of the 1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley rookie card #7 has a clean and basic layout. The top quarter of the card has the fleer logo in the top left corner, the number in the top right corner and the Philadelphia 76ers logo in the center. On the next quarter of the card we see the player name, biographical information and his statistics from his first two seasons. The bottom half of the card is mostly blank except for the NBA logo and copyright information at the bottom of the card.

1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie #7 - Back
1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie #7 – Back

Charles Barkley Rookie Card Value

The 1986-87 Charles Barkley rookie card is one of the most valuable basketball cards made in the 1980s. The chart below was pulled from the popular card grading site PSA on 11/10/2021. It shows prices for the Charles Barkley rookie card in various conditions.

1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie Auction Prices
1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie Auction Prices (source: www.psacard.com 11/10/21)

Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1986 Charles Barkley rookie card #7


Other Relevant Charles Barkley Cards

The 1986-87 Fleer #7 card is the only mainstream Charles Barkley rookie card, but he does have one very scarce and obscure “card” from his college days that predates his Fleer rookie. Basketball cards weren’t made consistently during this era, so we’ll also discuss a few of his other early cards:

1984-85 Star Charles Barkley #202

The 1984-85 Star Charles Barkley #202 is the first Charles Barkley card, but there are some issues with considering it a rookie. This set never appeared in packs and could only be purchased as part of polybagged team sets. Also, the print runs for these cards were very small so not many of them are out there. Star cards suffered from low-quality manufacturing practices that left them easy to counterfeit. Because of this, PSA does not grade these cards even though some card-grading services will. I think buyers need to be careful when buying Star cards, particularly if they are not graded. However, I view this as a rookie card while still allowing the 1986-87 Fleer #7 card to also be considered a rookie. There simply were not enough of these distributed at a wide scale to nullify the rookie status of the first major-issue card.

1984-85 Star Charles Barkley #202
1984-85 Star Charles Barkley #202
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for the 1984-85 Star Charles Barkley #202 on eBay (affiliate link)


1984-85 Star Charles Barkley Court Kings #41

The 1984-85 Star Charles Barkley Court Kings card #41 is an oversized 5″ x 7″ issue that was released during the same year as the 1984-85 Star #202 card mentioned above. There are fewer of these, but collector interest is lower due to the large size. As with all Star cards, precede with caution when buying these cards raw.

1984-84 Star Charles Barkley Court Kings #41
1984-84 Star Charles Barkley Court Kings #41
Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card

Shop for the 1984-85 Charles Barkley Score Court Kings #41 on eBay (affiliate link)


1985-86 JMS Charles Barkley #4

The 1985-86 JMS Charles Barkley #4 card comes from a 27 card set that featured players from the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. JMS issued the set on three uncut sheets with 9 players for each team. To get the individual cards collectors had to tear them out along perforations. These cards typically surface individually, but sometime full sheets still surface. This card is one year after Barkley’s Star rookie, but one year before his Fleer rookie. I still consider this card an oddball rookie.

1985-86 JMS Charles Barkley #5
Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card

Shop for the 1985-86 Charles Barkley JMS #4 on eBay (affiliate link)


Other 1985-86 Star Cards

During the few years when Star was the dominate maker of NBA cards they produced quite a few different sets. I’ve already covered the first two cards that I would consider rookies. The next batch of cards I’ll discuss came after the first two 1984-85 Star cards mentioned above, but before the 1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley #7 card. I’m reluctant to call any of this rookie cards because of the earlier Star cards, but they are still relevant to this topic due to the timeframe.

1985 Star Super Teams Charles Barkley #PS8

This is an oversized Barkley Card that measures 5″ x 7″ – it was released in 1985 as part of a 40-card set.

1985 Star Super Teams Charles Barkley #PS8
1985 Star Super Teams Charles Barkley #PS8
Verdict: Not a Rookie

1985 Star Gatorade Slam Dunk Charles Barkley

This 9-card set was given to attendees of the 1985 All Star Banquet in Indianapolis. This Barkley card was not given out at that time because Barkley was a late scratch from the slam dunk contest, but they leaked out and appearing in the marketplace in the years after.

1985 Star Gatorade Slam Dunk Charles Barkley
1985 Star Gatorade Slam Dunk Charles Barkley
Verdict: Not a Rookie

1985-86 Star Charles Barkley #2

This is the 2nd regular-issue Star Charles Barkley card. This card features a photo of Barkley blocking a shot attempt by NBA All-Star Otis Birdsong.

1985-86 Star Charles Barkley #2
1985-86 Star Charles Barkley #2
Verdict: Not a Rookie

1985-86 Star All Rookie Charles Barkley #3

This card is from an 11-card set featuring the top rookies from the previous year. The card uses the same design as the 1984-85 Star set.

1985-86 Star All Rookie Team Charles Barkley #3
1985-86 Star All Rookie Charles Barkley #3
Verdict: Not a Rookie

Search for the 1985-86 Charles Barkley Star cards on eBay (affiliate link)


Charles Barkley’s Legacy

Charles Barkley was one of the most dominant basketball players of the 1980s and 1990s. During his playing days he was one of the leagues biggest offensive threats and best rebounders. He was considered to be on the shorter side for a power forward, but made up for his lack of size with athleticism, strength and intelligence. He never led the NBA in scoring or rebounding, but he finished among the top 10 scores six times and among the top 10 rebounders nine times.

Over the course of his career Barkley achieved many honors including being named to multiple All Star teams and winning the league MVP. He also won two Olympic gold metals as a member of the Dream Team and the Dream Team II. Barkley was known for his larger-than-life personality which made his post-playing career move to being a television basketball analyst an easy transition. Here are some of Charles Barkley’s career accomplishments.

  • 1984-85 All Rookie
  • 11 time All Star
  • 11 time All-NBA
  • 1 time All Star Game MVP (1990-91)
  • 1 time NBA MVP (1992-93)
  • 5 time 2-Pt Field Goal Leader
  • 2 time Effective Field Goal Leader (1986-87, 1987-88)
  • 4 time True Shooting Percentage Leader (1986-87, 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90)
  • 1 time Triple-Doubles Leader (1992-93)
  • 2 time Offensive Rating Leader (1988-89, 1990-91)
  • 1 time Offensive Rebound Percentage Leader (1986-87)
  • Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006
  • Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as member of the Dream Team in 2010

Get Your Charles Barkley Rookie

Do you want to add a 1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley rookie to your collection? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.


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All About Charles Barkley Rookies Infographic

Charles Barkley Rookie Cards Infographic
Charles Barkley Rookie Cards Infographic

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