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LeBron rookie card fetches record US$1.8 m at auction

 NBA superstar LeBron James is a record-setter in the memorabilia world as well as on the court.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta on Dec. 15, 2019.

A rare James trading card from his rookie season in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers — one of only 23 manufactured — sold for US$1.8 million on Saturday, Goldin Auctions said.

James signed the card, which features a patch from one of his jerseys, and it was graded at 9.5 — “Gem Mint condition” according to the auction house.

“The incomparable superstar has penned a vivid blue ink signature on the obverse of this ultra-premium collectible,” Goldin Auctions said in the description of the item. “Its cardfront presentation also incorporates an exceptional, tri-color James-worn jersey patch relic.”

Bidding began on the card at US$150,000.

The Cavaliers selected the highly touted James with the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft.

The Akron, Ohio, native scored 25 points on 12-of-20 shooting with nine rebounds, six assists and four steals in his debut against the Sacramento Kings.

He posted 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds to win the Rookie of the Year award.

Now a 16-time All-Star, three-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, James was averaging 25.7 points per game, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds when the NBA season was halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He has led the Lakers to first place in the Western Conference with the league preparing to resume action on July 31.

The previous record for most expensive modern day sports trading card belonged to Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout.

In May, one of Trout’s cards sold for US$923,000.