NBA legend Bill Russell’s rookie card sells for record $660k

Russell died July 31st at the age of 88

NBA and Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell passed away in July at the age of 88, but his NBA legacy lives on. 

On Thursday, a 1957 Topps Bill Russell rookie card sold for $660,000 at auction, setting an all-time high for a Russell trading card. The card was previously sold for $630,000 in March 2021. 

Bill Russell speaks at a Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Legacy Symposium

Bill Russell speaks during a Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Legacy Symposium before a game between the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies on January 16, 2006, at FedexForum in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

The rookie card became the third most expensive vintage basketball card of all time. 


The sale was conducted by PWCC Marketplace. 

"It's worth looking beyond the sales price and taking a moment to appreciate the quality of this card from a historical perspective," PWCC Marketplace vice president of sales Jesse Craig said in a statement, according to CBS Sports.  

"There are no PSA 10 copies of this card and just three PSA 9 copies in existence. None of those 9s have ever surfaced at public auction. There are two copies of the card graded to a PSA 8.5 and this copy holds above average eye appeal according to our experts. When you take all of that into consideration it is possible that this is the best looking copy of the card to exist in the world. What isn't debatable is that we're in the museum-quality range with this card. We're looking at a true artifact celebrating one of the all-time greats."


A photo of the Celtics basketball court

The Bill Russell tribute on the court during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals 2023 NBA Playoffs between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics on May 3, 2023, at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Only two other vintage basketball cards – pre-1980 – have sold for more than the Russell rookie card. 

In March 2022, a 1948 George Mikan rookie card sold for $800,000, and a 1961 Wilt Chamberlain rookie card sold for $670,000 in June, according to ESPN.

Russell, an 11-time NBA champion, had his No. 6 jersey retired league-wide by the NBA following his death. 

Bill Russell attends a Celtics game

Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Russell attends a game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Las Vegas Aces at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 21, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Lynx 79-74.  (Ethan Miller/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Bill Russell's unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. 


"Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill's transcendent career will always be recognized."

Russell also became the first Black head coach in professional sports in 1966, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame on two separate occasions, as both a player and as a coach.