Kobe Bryant Card and Memorabilia Guide

Kobe Bryant

Date of Birth: 8/23/1978
Rookie Card Year: 1996-97
Investment Rating: 9.5


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 the 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 is also the closest to Jordan's.

Like many players, Kobe Bryant rookie cards command the most attention. Since this was before the serial numbered and autograph craze that now dominates the hobby, the premium brands are the biggest draw. 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.

See also: Real-Time Guide to the Hottest Kobe Bryant Cards

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.

In addition to the top RC options and a full rookie card checklist below, check out the full rundown of Kobe Bryant rookie cards.

Top Kobe Bryant Rookie Cards

1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant RC #138

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.

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1996-97 Finest Kobe Bryant RC #74

Bryant's Finest rookie card is another collector favorite. The slightly cartoonish design shows Bryant breaking through 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.

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1996-97 E-X2000 Kobe Bryant RC #30

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.

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Kobe Bryant Rookie Card Checklist

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Autograph Guide

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. 

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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:

  1. The whole signature is written at an up sloping 45-degree+ angle
  2. The letter "K" is over-sized and pronounced with no loops to it
  3. The pen lifts to start the letter "o" which is in the form of a small, closed circle
  4. The letters "b" and "e" are cursive like script and very legible
  5. The name "Bryant" is nothing more than a very unique and individualized script with two discernible closed, elongated loops

Signed Basketball Pricing

Active Listings for Kobe Bryant Signed Basketballs

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Signed Jersey Pricing

Active Listings for Kobe Bryant Signed Jerseys

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Signed Shoe Pricing

Active Listings for Kobe Bryant Signed Shoes

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Signed Photograph Pricing

Active Listings for Kobe Bryant Signed Photographs

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Fan Shop

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 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.

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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 the production of these fan items. While some are merely toys, others are truly collectible. Regardless of your budget, you're 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

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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

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Don't miss our other Kobe Bryant card and memorabilia guides:

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 |  E-Mail Author  | 
Trey Treutel is an Ole Miss grad and a lifelong sports fanatic. He is a huge fan of the NBA and NFL, as well as soccer, college basketball and college football. As a kid, he collected football and basketball cards. In more recent years, he started collecting basketball cards again on a whim and has since expanded to other sports and entertainment options. Find Trey on Twitter at @datreute.

User Comments

  1. Hi,

    I own a small card shop in Arlington WA. I just had a customer come in with a strange Kobe Rookie. Its a Topps number 138 and is encapsled in a topps sealed case. It’s serialed numbered to 100 on the back and has an embroidered logo in the center of the card that says topps original. I think based off the topps seal that it dates to the early 2000’s but its very confusing and I cannot find the card in any conventional resource data bases. Beckett Media, ebay ect. The seal appears to have been somwhat tampered with but that isn’t that unusual to see some damage but it doesn’t appear to have ever beenn completly opened in any way. Any thought on what this card is. I’d appreciate ant advice you have. Thanks, Mike Britt, Britt Sport Cards. 360-435-1800

  2. Mike Britt (ID 34333) Hi Mike,
    If you’re able to email a scan or send a picture to rcracknell@cardboardconnection.com I’ll see if I can figure something out or I’ll post it in the forum and/or our Facebook page and a reader might be able to identify it.


  3. So what is the rarest Kobe rookie card? I think that the Scoreboard Vision Artistry Signature card of Kobe Bryant is one of the rarest since Scoreboard company was only up for 2 years. What’s your opinion on this?

    Jourdan Banzon

  4. I have metal universe pmg nba skybox kobe bryant # 53 card that is encased in a hard plastic case. It shows on the reverse side his stats from the 97 – 98 season. Looking to find out where to sell and approximate value.

  5. Hi years ago I pulled a kobe 98-99 collectors edge rookie rage auto. card number rr-46 the Beckett says its /39 so I always thought it was recently I saw one hand numbered on back up on eBay were the cards numbered on the back? Was there a regular version what’s the price range of my card if there are 2 versions any thoughts would be appreciated thank you

  6. There should be a serious conversation in regards to Scoreboard and them having had Kobe sign the first cards ever made . A real confer should be had , it seems the brands became the only thing that mattered and we forgot that in 96 Kobe signed for NO ONE but scoreboard

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