Leave it to Miami's men of the moment -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- to transform an utterly forgettable 6-year-old eyesore into the single hottest basketball trading card on the market.
While South Florida's hoops-collecting populace was waiting impatiently for the first cards featuring James, Wade and Bosh together, those with a little more market savvy and a lot more memory began scouring their 2003-04 Topps Rookie Matrix stashes for the one that already existed.
Last week that card was valued at $20. Today it's valued at $100. And when the new issue of Beckett Basketball hits the market later this month, the convoluted Rookie Card will also be No. 1 on the Hot List, ahead of key Rookie Cards of five-time NBA champion and 2010 Finals MVP Kobe Bryant and 2009-10 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans.
For those counting at home, that virtually-overnight ascension from $20 to $100 represents a 500 percent increase. Not bad for a set that was an afterthought not long after it was released in April of 2004.
Simply put, the 2003-04 Topps Rookie Matrix product was a conflicted mess whose one redeeming quality -- this card -- has perhaps forever changed the set's legacy for the better.
The product spread 33 rookie players in various combinations across 110 perforated Rookie Cards, a nod to the famous 1980-81 Topps Rookie Card of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson that also included Julius Erving. It also utilized a design that wasn't well-received among veteran collectors.