The first game-worn item from Kobe Bryant’s 81-point scoring explosion against the Toronto Raptors during the 2005-06 season is up for auction.
Bryant’s shooting shirt from the January 22, 2006 game is being sold in a single-lot auction through Sotheby’s that runs through Feb. 22. The opening bid is $200,000.
The shooting shirt has been authenticated and photomatched by The MeiGray Group, the official authenticator for the NBA. No other worn memorabilia from Bryant’s 81-point game has ever been offered at public auction.
A representative for Sotheby’s tells us “the shirt was in a private collection before being acquired directly by the consignor.” Details beyond that aren’t known.
MeiGray’s research revealed that Bryant wore the shooting shirt in other games following the 81-point performance including Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round in April of 2006.
“We couldn’t be happier to have its first public presentation be in Los Angeles at Sotheby’s gallery to celebrate Kobe’s legacy in the city where spent his entire 20-year career in the NBA,” stated Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectables.
Bryant’s 81 point game still stands as the second highest total for a player in a single NBA game behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point effort in 1962.
January 22, 2006 was meant to be a day for the NFL. The date marked conference championship Sunday, which featured games that would decide who faced off in Super Bowl XL. Bryant was nursing a tight knee that day and recalled the early moments of the game as “tiptoeing” through his movements. With the Lakers’ play described as sluggish in the early minutes of the game and the Raptors sitting back in zone defense, Bryant felt he had an opportunity to control the game. He ended the first half with 26 points and then outscored the entire Raptors team in the second half, 55-41.
Roughly a month before the 81-point performance, Bryant had a huge scoring night against the Dallas Mavericks and did it in three quarters. With Bryant at 62 points heading into the final period, Lakers coach Phil Jackson and assistant coach Brian Shaw asked Kobe if he wanted to re-enter the blowout game to score 70. Looking up at the scoreboard, Kobe replied: “Nah, I’ll get it another time…I’ll do it when we really need it. I’ll get it when it really matters.”
The winner of the shooting shirt will also receive a unique one-of-one NFT designed by Karvin Cheung, the creator behind the highly coveted Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Basketball, commemorating Bryant’s performance.