The Kobe Bryant rookie card is extremely popular since he was a beloved and iconic basketball player whose career left a lasting impact on the sport. As a result, his rookie cards are highly sought after by collectors and fans alike.
Kobe cemented his reputation as a fierce competitor and skilled athlete throughout his career. He was known for his scoring ability, clutch performances, and relentless work ethic, and he left a lasting legacy on the game of basketball.
This article will explore the best Kobe Bryant rookie cards available and delve into his journey from high school basketball to the NBA.
We will also discuss his impressive skills and the qualities that made him such a captivating player.
Kobe Bryant Rookie Card Table Of Contents
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What Year Was Kobe Bryant Rookie Card Released?
The Kobe Bryant rookie card was first seen in the 1996-97 basketball card sets.
Which Kobe Bryant Rookie Card Is The Best RC?
As a result of Kobe Bryant’s storied career and enduring popularity, there are many Kobe Bryant rookie cards to choose from. In addition to the base rookie cards, collectors can also find a variety of Kobe Bryant rookie card parallels and autograph cards.
Let’s look at the top 7 most popular Kobe Bryant rookie cards.
1996-97 Topps Kobe Bryant Rookie Card #138
Finest was a top brand for Topps basketball cards in its early years.
If it weren’t for a delayed release that caused a stir in the hobby, this would have continued with the 1996-97 Finest Basketball set.
Like Flair, the main checklist is structured in tiers, with common, uncommon, and rare cards (also referred to as bronze, silver, and gold). Kobe Bryant’s rookie card in the set is part of the Series 1 Apprentices subset, and he also appears in Series 2 on a separate rare card, which is more valuable. Both cards have Refractor parallels.
The 1996-97 Finest Basketball cards were originally packaged with a protective film, but their presence or absence does not significantly affect the value.
1996-97 Flair Showcase Row 2 Kobe Bryant Rookie Card #31
It is difficult to argue against the aesthetic appeal of 1996-97 Flair Showcase Basketball.
The cards feature a stunning rainbow foil design, multiple player shots, and flowing fonts that create an elegant and unique look.
The set also boasts a tiered structure with three “Rows” of cards. Row 2 is the most common and can be considered the base version, while Row 1 and Row 0 have their distinct designs.
All three rows have Legacy parallels that are serial-numbered to 150, making them some of the most coveted Kobe Bryant cards from the 1996-97 set.
1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Rookie Card #138
While many of his other rookie cards remain relatively affordable despite his iconic status, the Topps Chrome card is in a league of its own. Designed for retail distribution, the product was an instant hit and has remained popular. However, the set is known for difficult centering, which makes the card condition-sensitive.
Adding to the card’s allure is the highly sought-after Refractor parallel, considered one of the most desirable basketball cards of all time. In the months leading up to Kobe’s retirement, a Black Label BGS 10 sold for $58,100. However, since he died in 2020, the same card is expected to close at auction in March 2021 for over $1 million.
If you’re shopping for a Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant rookie card on eBay, some sellers may list the base Topps NBA 50 foil parallel with “Chrome” in the title to get more search hits. These cards are significantly different in price and desirability.
1996-97 E-X2000 Kobe Bryant Rookie Card #30
The 1996-97 E-X2000 set of basketball cards was truly one of a kind.
With its etched foil borders and glossy die-cut player images set against an acetate backdrop, these cards were unlike anything else on the market at the time.
The inclusion of clouds in the background is somewhat mysterious, but it certainly adds to the cards’ cool factor. However, collectors should be aware that the foil borders are prone to dings, making it challenging to find copies in top condition.
One of the most coveted cards in the set is the Credentials parallel, numbered 499. These cards are highly sought after and command a hefty price tag when they come for sale.
1996-97 Metal Kobe Bryant RC #137
Setting aside its more traditional design, the 1996-97 Metal Kobe Bryant Rookie Card is anything but ordinary.
From its shimmering foil stock to the bold, attention-grabbing “Fresh Foundation” font, this card exudes a classic 1990s vibe.
Additionally, the photograph featured on the card captures Kobe at a press conference after being acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1996 NBA Draft from the Charlotte Hornets, showcasing his iconic cap from that era.
While the Metal brand has gained some notoriety in recent years, it is largely due to the brand’s evolution into Metal Universe, and the subsequent Precious Metal Gems sets.
1996-97 Bowman’s Best Kobe Bryant Rookie Card #R23
The Bowman’s Best Kobe Bryant rookie card was considered the cream of the crop for many card collectors.
This particular series, 1996-97 Bowman’s Best, focused primarily on baseball and featured rookies as part of the base set.
Kobe Bryant’s Rookie Card from this series is especially coveted due to its Refractor and Atomic Refractor parallels, which have significantly boosted its value. In recent years, the demand for chrome cards and the prestige of the Bowman brand have caused this particular Kobe Bryant Rookie Card to soar in value, surpassing several of his other coveted cards.
1996-97 SkyBox Premium Kobe Bryant Rookie Card #55
Despite its name, the 1996-97 Premium Kobe Bryant Rookie Card is not necessarily a “premium” product.
However, it does stand out with its unique design elements without being excessively flashy.
The Kobe Bryant rookie card features a photograph of Kobe from an unusual angle against a background that resembles the moon, giving it a cosmic feel reminiscent of a subdued Costacos Brothers poster.
This Kobe Bryant rookie card is printed on fairly thin stock and has a glossy finish. It can be found in Series 1 packs.
Who was Kobe Bryant, NBA Superstar?
Kobe Bryant was a professional basketball player who spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
He was born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was the youngest of three children. Kobe’s father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, was a professional basketball player who played in the NBA and overseas, and Kobe grew up in Italy while his father played professionally there.
Kobe learned to speak Italian fluently and play basketball from his father.
Kobe Bryant’s Background And Where He Came From
Kobe attended Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he played high school basketball and led his team to the state championship as a senior. He became one of the country’s most highly recruited high school players and was featured in Sports Illustrated as the “Player of the Year.”
After considering offers from several colleges, Kobe decided to skip college and go straight to the NBA, following in the footsteps of other high school players who had made the jump, such as LeBron James and Kevin Garnett.
Kobe Bryant And His College Basketball Career
Since Kobe chose to bypass college and go straight to the NBA, he did not have a college basketball career. However, he did participate in the 1996 Nike Hoop Summit, where he played for the USA team against a team of international players.
Kobe impressed scouts with his performance at the event and solidified his status as a top prospect for the upcoming NBA Draft.
Kobe Bryant’s Rookie Year And Getting Drafted
Kobe declared for the 1996 NBA Draft and was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. However, he was immediately traded to the Lakers, where he spent the rest of his career.
Kobe played a limited role off the bench in his rookie season for the Lakers. He played in 71 games, starting six of them, and averaged 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. He won the NBA Rookie of the Year award and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Kobe Bryant Becomes A Basketball Star
Kobe became a full-time starter in his second season and increased his scoring average to 15.4 points per game. He also helped the Lakers reach the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls.
From then on, Kobe became one of the league’s top players and helped lead the Lakers to three straight NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. He won the NBA Finals MVP award in both 2000 and 2001.
Kobe was known for his scoring ability and clutch performances throughout his career.
He was a 10-time NBA scoring champion and scored the second-most points in NBA history, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was also named to the NBA All-Defensive Team nine times and was a member of the All-NBA First Team 11 times. In addition to his three NBA championships with the Lakers,
Kobe also won two more NBA titles in 2009 and 2010, forming a dynamic duo with Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe Bryant’s Death
On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Kobe and Gianna were on their way to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy, which Kobe founded and where Gianna played on a youth team.
The news of their deaths shocked the world and prompted an outpouring of grief from fans, colleagues, and fellow athletes.
Kobe was only 41 years old at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and their three other daughters.
Kobe and Vanessa were married in 2001 and had been together for over 20 years.
In addition to being a devoted husband and father, Kobe was also a role model and mentor to many young people, including Gianna, who had aspirations of playing in the WNBA.
The helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe and Gianna was a tragic and sudden loss, and the news of their deaths was met with shock and disbelief. Tributes and condolences poured in from all over the world, and the basketball community was deeply affected by the loss of one of its greatest players and ambassadors.
Kobe’s impact on the game of basketball and his influence on the lives of those around him will never be forgotten. His legacy as a player, a coach, a mentor, and a father will continue to inspire and inspire generations to come.
Kobe Bryant’s Career Accomplishments and Awards
Kobe was one of the most decorated players in NBA history. In addition to his 5 NBA championships and 18 NBA All-Star selections, he won numerous individual awards and accolades.
These include the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, the NBA Finals MVP Award, the NBA All-Star Game MVP Award, and the NBA scoring title. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times and the NBA All-Defensive Second Team twice. Kobe was also named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team and the NBA All-Star Game First Team 15 times.
In addition to his success in the NBA, Kobe was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, winning with Team USA in 2008 and 2012. He was named to the All-Tournament Team in both Olympics and helped lead Team USA to the gold medal.
Kobe was also a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. He co-wrote a children’s book and launched a production company, Granity Studios, which produced content for television, film, and digital media. He also donated millions of dollars to various charitable causes, including education, health, and the arts.
In honor of his contributions to the game of basketball and his impact on the community, the Lakers retired Kobe’s jersey numbers 8 and 24 in 2017. He was also inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.
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