Here is terrific analysis of the popularity of Michael Jordan, gathered from some of the most most visited sites online.
Btw, the most pressurizing occurence for MJs 90s card prices could potentially be, if multiple imitations would hit the market at one point. Thats probably the No. 1 danger for 90s cards out there, especially for unlimited inserts (see 86-87 Fleer No.57).
Thats why 90s autos most likely continue to be the safest cards out there, because these cards should be difficult to forfeit (as not just the card itself, but numbering and the autograph will have to be forged) AND multiple pics of originals are stored on collectors computers.
Aside from that, few things seem to have the ability to derail the high-end MJ 90s train. Any significant setbacks will probably be seen as buying opportunities for a barrage of MJ-collectors.
Did some research. Here are the results using numbers produced in the modern technology era (which naturally supports todays media-stars like Kobe, Obama, etc. and leaves 90s stars, in general, far behind):
1. most popular website, google.com (number of search results if exact wording of first- and surname is used)
1.1 90s players (at least 5 years retired)
Jordan (54.2 mio), Barkley (5.2 mio), Pippen (3.7 mio), Malone (2 mio), Ewing (1.6 mio), Olajuwon (1.2 mio), Stockton (1.2 mio)
1.2 modern day players – Lebron (65 mio), Kobe (49.2 mio), Rose (15.4 mio)
1.3 others – Obama (248 mio.), Tiger Woods (62 mio), Oprah Winfrey (50.2 mio), 90s president Bill Clinton (38.2 mio)
2. 2nd most popular website, facebook.com (company was founded in 2004, thats after most 90s stars retired from the NBA) – number of likes
2.1 Jordan (12.308.770), Pippen (113.008), Barkley (75.494), Stockton (29.572), Ewing (23.353), Olajuwon (22.205), Malone (21.196)
2.2 Kobe (9.589.269), Lebron (7.781.181), Rose (3.245.379)
2.3 Barrack Obama (21.964.191), Oprah Winfrey (6.109.280), Tiger Woods (2.004.502) 90s president Bill Clinton (613.917)
3. 3rd most popular website, youtube.com (company was founded in 2005)
a) number of uploaded videos
3.1 Jordan (234.000), Pippen (6.520), Barkley (6.080), Ewing (3.470), Malone (2.840), Stockton (2.730), Olajuwon (2.080)
3.2 Kobe (162.000), Lebron (138.000), Rose (18.500)
b) most watched video (number of clicks / viewers)
3.1 Jordan 17.3 mio, Barkley 2.6 mio, Malone 1.7 mio, Olajuwon 1 mio, Pippen 0.7 mio, Stockton 0.3 mio, Ewing 0.3 mio
3.2 Kobe, Lebron – 9.9 mio. (same video), Rose – 2.8 mio.
4. economy factor – numbers of watchers for the 100th most watched item on eBay.com
4.1 Michael Jordan – 35 watchers, Scottie Pippen – 3 watchers, Charles Barkley – 2 watchers, Karl Malone – 1 watcher, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing – 0 watchers each
4.2 Kobe Bryant (17), Lebron James (13), Derrick Rose (10)
4.3 xbox (165), Blackberry (123), Playstation (65), Jordan (51), Nike (50), Air Jordan (43), adidas (36), silver coin (35), gold coin (27), Reebok (17)
With Jordan beating out whole brand names like Nike, Adidas and Reebok and heavily collected items like silver- and gold-coins in popularity, one can talk about Jordan in itself having become one of the finest brand names in the world over the past 2 decades. As brand names usually command a premium to comparable items, one could argue, that MJs 90s card prices were too low, relative to some of the other 90s players, in the past and just entered the levels, where they most likely belong.