Kobe Bryant’s cards are among the most popular in the market. And there are an awful lot of options to choose from. Below are some of the best first issues of the Lakers’ star.
Kobe Bryant was famous when he was very young and was drafted out of his Philadelphia high school in 1997. The expectations for the shooting guard were massive and somehow, Kobe was able to meet them all. Over the course of his 20-year career with the Lakers, Bryant won 5 championships and made 18 All-Star games. Shortly after he retired, Bryant was tragically killed in a helicopter crash.
Upper Deck #58
Upper Deck never really took off with basketball cards the way that it did with baseball and hockey cards. Still, the name was huge in 1990’s collections. Kobe’s first UD card isn’t an action shot, instead, it features a shot of the shooting guard smiling with sunglasses on his forehead.
The Upper Deck issue was produced in massive quantities, so it is not all that hard for collectors to get their hands on a really nice copy. A PSA 10 issue will sell for around $300.
Topps Finest Heirs #269
In the mid-1990s, Topps was printing an awful lot of basketball cards. There was the Topps classic line and also the Chrome line. In addition, the legendary trading card brand also produced the Topps Finest brand which was very similar to the Chrome brand.
The Finest brand featured an Heirs subset for some of the most exciting rookies in the game. Bryant’s highly collectible Heirs card features him in the midst of a reverse layup. The Heirs card is rare and goes into the thousands for graded copies.
Skybox EX-2000 #30
Skybox was a higher-end basketball card brand that was prominent in the early to mid-90s. One of the most attractive versions of the set was the EX-2000 issue. In this set, Kobe had both a base card as well as a rarer credentials version.
The Skybox card represents one of Bryant’s most attractive rookie cards and it also comes in at a decent price. PSA 9s of the card come in at around $1500. If you want to opt for the credentials card, limited to 499, you can expect to pay around $50,000.
Fleer Ultra #266
Thanks to the 1961 Set (Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain rookies) and 1986 (every good player’s rookie), Fleer became an iconic brand in basketball cards. In the 1990s, Fleer issued its Ultra line, a premium brand meant to compete with Upper Deck.
The Fleer Ultra rookie card of Kobe Bryant might capture the Black Mamba’s intensity more than any other rookie card. The card is quite affordable for collectors looking for an entry-level Kobe rookie. A PSA 10 copy sells for around $600 on sites like eBay.
Topps Chrome #138
One thing has been proven by collectors; they especially like to collect chrome versions of cards from the 90s and early 2000s. So it is no surprise that the Cadillac of Bryant rookie cards is his 1996 Topps Chrome version. The card, which features the Black Mamba cruising to the basket, really makes his Lakers uniform pop.
The card has risen in value over the years and now sells for around $2,000 in a PSA 9. There are other options for collectors who can’t afford the premium issue. Bryant’s base Topps rookie card features the same image and sells for around $400 in the same condition.
*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.