His achievements in a 20-year career are mind-boggling. Beginning in the mid-1990s lasting until the mid-2010s, his status and accomplishments unleashed a mountain of Kobe Bryant basketball cards.
From his rookie cards on Topps, Upper Deck and Skybox as a teenager to post-retirement issues autographed through his close association with Panini America, Bryant’s career is well chronicled on collectible cardboard: his five NBA championships, 18 all-star appearances, two Finals MVP awards, two scoring championships, nine All-Defensive first team honors and the list goes on.
Kobe Bryant rookie cards first arrived in 1996, alongside those of Allen Iverson. Many common Kobe rookie cards can still be had in “raw” form for under $25 but there are many that are more valuable with the Topps Chrome and Chrome Refractor parallels among the most popular. Topps also gave us Finest and the Gold Atomic Refractor parallel.
From Skybox came the E-X 2000 and E-X 2000 Credential parallel numbered to 499. Upper Deck churned out SP. There were Ultra Gold and Platinum Medallion parallels, Bowman’s Best with its own Refractor and Atomic Refractor parallels.
Among the current SMR Price Guide value ranges for some of Kobe’s best rookie cards that have been graded at the high end (8-10) by PSA:
- 1996-97 Topps Chrome #138: $275-$1,200
- 1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractor $3,500-$15,000
- 1996-97 Topps Finest Refractor $300-$1,500
- 1996-97 Topps Finest #269 Gold $120-$400
- 1996-97 Topps Finest Gold Atomic Refractor $650-$3,000
- 1996-97 E-X2000 $40-$2,600
- 1996-97 E-X 2000 Credentials $1,800-$6,500
- 1996-97 Bowman’s Best Atomic Refractor R23 $400-$1,300
- 1996-97 Skybox Rubies #355 $450-$1,500
- 1996-97 Skybox Rubies #203 $150-$650
- 1996-97 Upper Deck SP Holoview #PC18 $35-$2,000
- 1996-97 Ultra #32 Gold Medallion $800-$3,500
- 1996-97 Z-Force Z-Peat $200-$750
- 1996-97 Flair Showcase #31 Row 0 $90-$400
- 1996-97 Flair Showcase #31 Row 1 $900-$3,000
- 1996-97 Flair Showcase #31 Row 2 $8-$400
Soon after that rookie season came the unique Jambalaya inserts and so many others. There were late career tribute sets issued by Panini to chronicle his career, with the autographs captured on video as he discussed the set.
Collectors ultimately decide which are the best cards, though. Some prefer the most interesting, colorful designs while others prefer low-serial numbered autograph parallels. Many stick to the time-tested rookie cards.
Auctions usually offer a glimpse at which cards are the most sought after in the marketplace.
You can check out the current most watched Kobe Bryant basketball card auctions on eBay via the live list below (if you don’t see the live feed, check back tomorrow morning).
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