Celtics vs. Lakers for the Mega Drive may sound like an irrelevant sports title from the early 90s, but it’s actually a “Holy Grail” collector’s item, prized for its rarity. Never officially released in the EU, only 13 PAL copies are confirmed to exist, and one just sold for an eye-popping amount. A copy was purchased on eBay for $9,800, which is amazing since NTSC copies can be found for only $5-$10.
Ready for release, Electronic Art’s warehouse was already stocked with copies for sale when Celtics vs. Lakers was cancelled. Licensing fees for the NBA were oppressively high at the time, and instead of rebranding the title to something more generic, like “EA Basketball,” the decision was made to scrap it completely and wait for Bulls vs. Lakers the following year. A few copies leaked out, with EA documentation showing nearly 200 copies in existence, but only 13 have been confirmed.
The sale for nearly $10,000 is impressive, but it’s nowhere near the largest amount a rare game has sold for, with a sealed and graded copy of Super Mario 64 selling for $1.56 million and a pristine copy of Super Mario Bros for the NES going for an astonishing $2 million. What separates Celtics vs. Lakers from those two gaming relics is that it’s exclusively the packaging that makes the EA sports title a collector’s item.
Inside of the case, the actual Mega Drive cartridge is no different from the NTSC copies available for a few dollars. It’s the packaging, and the unique case with PAL markings, that makes Celtics vs. Lakers so expensive. Any copy without the packaging would not be worth even a fraction of the total value, making this one of the rarest, most unique collectibles in the world of gaming.