CSG Certifies Prized LeBron James Autograph Card

Posted on 9/8/2021

The rookie year LeBron James card featuring his autograph is the most sought after in Upper Deck’s 2003-2004 SP Authentic set.

The Upper Deck Company changed sports card collecting forever in 1990 when it released a set of baseball cards that included a limited number of cards bearing authentic autographs. The historic set included 2,500 cards personally autographed by baseball great Reggie Jackson that were randomly inserted into card packs. Upper Deck’s “Find The Reggie” campaign launched a new era in sports card collecting that has resulted in many highly prized autographed cards.

Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG™) was excited to grade a 2003-2004 Upper Deck #148 LeBron James that bears the NBA superstar’s authenticated autograph. Only 500 of the cards were issued as part of Upper Deck’s SP Authentic set that year. The card graded by CSG is number 481 of 500.

Click images to enlarge.

The front of the #148 LeBron James card features a full body photo of the Cleveland Cavalier small forward in action with his iconic “LBJ” signature in blue ink. On the back of the card is printed a congratulatory message to the finder of the card, affirming that he or she has received “a card personally autographed by LeBron James.” It also describes the card as a “certificate” that “expressly warrants the authenticity of the depicted athlete’s signature.”

Upper Deck explains via their website that its autographed cards are subjected to a five step authentication process that includes the witnessing of the autograph by “an Upper Deck Authenticated representative” and the inclusion of an “Upper Deck Authenticated serial numbered hologram” on each signed card. Upper Deck says it developed the process to frustrate the efforts of card forgers seeking to “make a buck off unsuspecting fans.”

How CSG grades autographed sports cards

CSG graded the #148 LeBron James CSG 8, with sub-grades of 9.5 for Centering and Edges, 9.0 for Corners and 7.5 for surface. It was given a 10 Autograph grade.

When determining autograph grades, CSG takes a number of factors into consideration. Cards graded 10 for Autograph will exhibit a boldly signed autograph that appears nearly perfect to the naked eye and that is aesthetically pleasing. Factors that can detract from an autograph’s grade include splattering, scratching, or smearing of ink, variations in the boldness of the signature and yellowing or fading of the signature.

Since entering the NBA, LeBron James has proven himself to be among the top players in the history of the sport. After being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior, he became a “prep-to-pro” player when he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft. In his first year in the league, he was named NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 20.9 points per game. In the seasons that followed, he played in the NBA Finals ten times, won four NBA championships, won four Finals MVP trophies and holds third place on the NBA’s all-time regular-season scoring list.

Hundreds of different cards featuring LeBron James have been issued by numerous sports card companies. Many of them are prized by collectors, but few are as sought after as the 2003-2004 Upper Deck SP Authentic #148. It stands out as an autographed card issued in a limited number during a superstar’s rookie year.


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