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. Kobe Bryant card values 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 a 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.
Like many star players, Bryant's autograph has been a great investment for years. Exclusive deals and limited willingness to sign in-person made 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 autographed 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 first-year Kobe Bryant card. It has a nice design with a metallic chromium finish. The Chrome rookie's popularity has led to some counterfeit problems. The cards have also suffered from 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
Kobe Bryant 96-97 SP Rookie Card
Kobe Bryant 96-97 Topps Rookie Card
KOBE BRYANT Los Angeles Lakers USA 1996-97 The Score Board ROOKIE Card #15 RARE!
KOBE BRYANT 96 97 FLEER ULTRA ROOKIE #52
Kobe Bryant Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Kobe Bryant's authentic signature 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.
Signed Basketball Pricing:
Average eBay Sales Price: $195
Lowest Amazon Price: $485.95
Signed Jersey Pricing
Average eBay Sales Price: $250
Lowest Amazon Price: $150.00
Signed 8x10 Photo Pricing
Average eBay Sales Price: $165
Lowest Amazon Price: $253.99