Many people think Kobe Bryant belongs in the same category as Michael Jordan and LeBron James in the hierarchy of all-time great players, but others think he’s overrated. His influence on the game, however, cannot be disputed. After the generation that aspired to be like Mike, the next generation aspired to be like Kobe. Staples Center could hold a legion of supporters if he had the will to win, a strong work ethic, and fearlessness in the biggest moments. Even though that alone would make Bryant one of the most desirable players in sports card history, another unfortunate factor should also be considered here.
In January 2020, Bryant was tragically killed before his time, shaking the basketball community to its core. Kobe’s loss was mourned by people worldwide, who saw him as a great basketball player and a great person off the court. The passing of Kobe makes a big difference not only to the price of his current cards but also to what can be done in the future. For those in the sports card hobby, it’s silly to think about how it impacts trivial things like sports cards. Even though autographs of all-time greats like Magic Johnson and Bill Russell are still available in current sets, Kobe doesn’t have one. We will examine some of the most sought-after Black Mamba prints and what they may cost you if you choose to invest in Bryant cards from here.
A rookie card (Topps #138 from 1996-97)
While Topps no longer holds the NBA rights – Panini currently controls them – they were the premier sports card company in the 1990s. In 1996-97, Topps released the top rookie card of Kobe. This card has nothing special, no autograph, no serial numbering, and only one parallel, but collectors still want it. It isn’t that difficult to get one, though. In the PSA population report alone, nearly 30,000 graded copies are in circulation, and there are likely many more at other grading companies. According to PSA, there are nearly 3,700 PSA 10s in that list, with the most recent sale being for over $1,400. The card is estimated to be worth about $1,600.