Rookie Card Year: 1996-97
Investment Rating: 8.5
Few names in basketball collecting carry as much weight as Kobe Bryant. Although Michael Jordan made the hobby relevant, when he retired he passed the torch to Black Mamba. Some will argue for LeBron James, but Bryant's championship success and unparalleled desire to win relate most closely to Jordan. The value of Kobe Bryant cards are also the closest to Jordan's. Only time will tell how many viable years Bryant has left to build his legacy.
Like many players, first-year Kobe Bryant card values went to tremendous highs several years ago, but have since come down to reasonable levels. Since this was before the serial numbered and autograph craze that now dominates the hobby, the premium brands are the biggest draw. Most rookies can be found in graded form for under $30. Pricey rookie parallels are out there for collectors looking for more of a challenge. 1996-97 E-X2000 Credentials, Topps Chrome Refractors, Finest Refractors and Flair Showcase Legacy are among the best Kobe Bryant card options from his rookie year.
Like many star players, Kobe Bryant autographs have proven to been great investments. Exclusive deals and a limited willingness to sign in-person make acquiring Bryant's signature both difficult and lucrative. However, now that he has signed an exclusive deal with Panini, collectors have more signed Kobe Bryant card options, pushing the average price down slightly.
Premium pieces of autographed Kobe Bryant memorabilia like basketballs and jerseys represent the best investment option for collectors going forward. If Bryant can make a couple more postseason runs and either tie or surpass Jordan's six championships, his legend will reach even higher. Bryant currently stands at five championships and the clock is ticking.
Top 3 Kobe Bryant Rookie Cards
For collectors, the choice is clear when it comes to the top best Kobe Bryant rookie card and it's 1996-97 Topps Chrome. It has a nice design with a metallic chromium finish. The Chrome rookie's popularity has led to some counterfeit problems. The card also has condition issues. Stick with graded versions to be certain the card is legitimate and fairly assessed.
Bryant's Finest rookie card is another collector favorite. The slightly cartoonish design shows Bryant breaking though a metal barrier, getting ready to dunk. 1996-97 Finest came with a protective coating that could be peeled off. Values remain the same with or without the peel, however collectors may want to be cautious removing them today as it's easy to nick corners trying to get them off.
Some years, it seems like all the cards the same. The E-X2000 design stands alone and this Kobe Bryant card is definitely one of his nicest rookies. The vivid green border shows a cutout of Bryant set against a somewhat transparent background of clouds.
Kobe Bryant Rookie Card Checklist
Budget Rookie Cards
Mid-Range Rookie Cards
Premium Rookie Cards
1996-97 Topps Stadium Club#52 Kobe Bryant Rookie Members Only SGC 96
1996-97 Finest Kobe Bryant Rookie # 74 PSA 9
1996-97 Fleet RC, #203, Kobe Bryant BGS 9.5
KOBE BRYANT 1996 97 SKYBOX ROOKIE CARD!
Kobe Bryant Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
In this section, you will find examples of what an authentic Kobe Bryant autograph looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. For several years, Kobe Bryant autographs were an exclusive part of the Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA) collection. While many of those items are still available, newer items will be found as part of the Panini Authentic collection. Other reputable authentication companies include JSA and PSA. Click on any of the images below to view full size photos.
Kobe Bryant Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Kobe Bryant autograph/signature will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics, depending on when in his career the item was signed. Other characteristics that play into his signature style are the particular item and venue. Look for the following signature features:
- The whole signature is written at an up sloping 45-degree+ angle
- The letter "K" is over-sized and pronounced with no loops to it
- The pen lifts to start the letter "o" which is in the form of a small, closed circle
- The letters "b" and "e" are cursive like script and very legible
- The name "Bryant" is nothing more than a very unique and individualized script with two discernible closed, elongated loops
Signed Basketball Pricing
Signed Jersey Pricing
Signed Shoe Pricing
Signed Photograph Pricing
Kobe Bryant Fan Shop Apparel and Souvenir Guide
Kobe Bryant's jerseys and shoes are highly coveted by fans the world over. Game-used versions can sell for several thousand dollars. A lifelong member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe has jerseys that date back to his entry into the league in 1996-97 In addition, Kobe's collectibles include a wide range of fan shop items and other memorabilia like figures, artwork, posters photographs and more.
Jerseys and Shoes
Manufacturer: Nike, Addidas, Champion
Adidas is currently the licensed provider of NBA jerseys. However, the league has also had licenses with Nike and Champion. In addition to Bryant's Lakers jersey, fans and collectors can also find All-Star and Olympic jerseys to round out their wardrobe or collection.
Adidas's full line of officially licensed NBA jerseys are available in three different styles. The Replica jersey is a lightweight polyester mesh fabric with screen printed lettering and numbers and is perfect for casual everyday wear. The Swingman jersey is a step up in quality and features a similar style fabric but features twill lettering and numbers. The Authentic jersey is made of a heavier weight polyester and is designed with patented ClimaCool technology for outstanding performance. It also features an embroidered NBA patch and twill letters and numbers and is as close as you will get to the real deal.
Much like Michael Jordan and Lebron James, Kobe Bryant also has a full line of shoes made by Nike.
Figures and Toys
Like many other superstar NBA players, Kobe Bryant has had a wide selection of figures, toys, bobbleheads and collectible statues created. Numerous companies have been involved with production of these fan items. While some are merely toys, others are truly collectible. Regardless of your budget, your sure to find the perfect piece for the Kobe fan in your life.
Manufacturers: McFarlane, Upper Deck, EnterBay, Mattel, Starting Line-up, Funko, Salino, Lego
- Shop for Kobe Bryant Figures, Toys and Bobbleheads
Photographs, Prints and Posters
When you pattern your game after Michael Jordan and lead your team to five NBA Championships, sports photographers tend to take notice. As such, Kobe has a wide variety of photographs, prints, lithographs, posters and even original artwork available to decorate any man-cave, office or bedroom. Notable rights holders listed below.
Rights-Holders: Upper Deck, PhotoFile, Panini, Fathead
- Shop for Kobe Bryant Photographs & More
Don't miss our other Kobe Bryant card and memorabilia guides:
- Top 24 Kobe Bryant Cards of All-Time
- Kobe Bryant Visual Rookie Card Guide
- 50 Hottest Kobe Bryant Cards
- Complete History and Visual Guide to Kobe Bryant Shoes
- Kobe Bryant News Articles
For general information and player statistics visit: