1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Pack Sequencing

The 1986 Fleer set is arguably the most popular basketball set. The cards command huge prices, driven by Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and a slew of other superstars. The complete set in the picture that follows sold for >$150k, for example.

1986 Fleer Basketball Complete Set

The wax packs and boxes are pricey as well. And with those prices comes fraud, especially when it comes to unopened products, which can be more challenging for new collectors to spot. And because these Fleer basketball boxes have a known sequencing, some collectors have removed and replaced packs that contain key players.

1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Pack

A few folks had reached out to me on Twitter asking me to write an article explaining the 1986 Fleer Basketball pack sequencing to help people out. I ripped a few 1986 Fleer Basketball packs years ago and have detailed notes from a conversation with Reed Kasaoka, DA Card World’s head buyer, and sequencing details from live rips online.

1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Case

Fleer had amazingly consistent collation. A legitimate unsearched wax box will have three complete sticker sets, plus three additional stickers. Reed explained that the stickers are always randomly paired with the 12 cards but follow the consistent insertion rate.

There are 432 cards in a box (36 packs of 12 cards), and the set has 132 cards. So 432 divided by 132 is 3.27 sets per box.

A complete box has 3 or 4 Michael Jordan cards, never any other number – the same is true for any other card.

1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Pack – Reverse

The cards will fall in two parallel reverse alphabetical order sequences, alternating cards, 66 cards apart. And collectors will notice that the sequencing can flip.

So here are some potential and seen sequences, starting from the top:

Sequence 1 (From Reed) – No Sequence Flips:

#58 – Clark Kellogg

#123 – Buck Williams

#57 – Michael Jordan

#122 – Gerald Wilkins

#56 – Vinnie Johnson

#121 – Dominique Wilkins

#55 – Steve Johnson

#120 – Spud Webb

#54 – Marques Johnson

#119 – Bill Walton

#53 – Magic Johnson

#118 – Jay Vincent

Sequence 2 (Vintage Breaks Live Box Rip):

#45 – Gerald Henderson

#111 – Mychal Thompson (Sequence Flip Follows)

#88 – Paul Pressey

#22 – Brad Davis

#87 – Ricky Pierce

#21 – Adrian Dantley

#86 – Sam Perkins

#20 – Terry Cummings

#85 – Jim Paxson

#19 – Pat Cummings 

#84 – Robert Parish

#18 – Wayne Cooper

Sequence 3 (Vintage Breaks Live Box Rip):

#104 – Larry Smith

#38 – Mike Gminski 

#103 – Derek Smith

#37 – Artis Gilmore

#102 – Jack Sikma

#36 – George Gervin

#101- Jerry Sichting

#35 – World B Free

#100 – Purvis Short

#34 – Sleepy Floyd (Sequence Flip Follows)

#33 – Verm Fleming

#99 – Byron Scott

Sequence 4 (Vintage Breaks Live Box Rip) – No Sequence Flips:

#110 – LaSalle Thompson

#44 – Derek Harper

#109 – Isiah Thomas 

#43 – Bill Hanzlik

#108 – Reggie Theus

#42 – Darrell Griffith 

#107 – Terry Teagle

#41 – David Greenwood

#106 – Steve Stipanovich

#40 – Sydney Green

#105- Rory Sparrow

#39 – Rickey Green

If you do a detailed examination of an uncut sheet, you can see why the cards follow this sequencing.

1986 Fleer Basketball Uncut Sheet #1
1986 Fleer Basketball Uncut Sheet #2

Reed mentioned that knowing the sequencing can take some of the fun out of opening packs. From the Vintage Breaks rip, they pulled three Jordans from a box that went as follows:

Jordan 1:

#123 – Buck Williams

#57 – Michael Jordan (66 cards later, remember?)

Jordan 2:

#58 – Clark Kellogg

#124 – Gus Williams

#57 – Michael Jordan

Jordan 3:

#59 – Albert King

#125 – Herb Williams

#58 – Clark Kellogg

#124 – Gus Williams

#57 – Michael Jordan

If you have a raw box, my suggestion is to utilize a trusted third-party authenticator to verify it. But the process they will use will utilize the above information along with a few other traits. They will look at each pack and make sure the seals are good, that there isn’t any wear on the corners, and that the gum slides. Then they will count the stickers on the back of the packs to make sure there are three of each player and a fourth sticker for three players. Then they will note the top card of each pack. They will compare those top cards to their sequencing records to check that every card should be present to verify the box will make three sets with some leftovers.

1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Box

I’ve never opened an entire box and don’t suspect that I ever will. Still, hopefully, this description helps you understand 1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Pack and Box sequencing and verification a little more.

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