Kobe Bryant’s rookie jersey to be auctioned, estimate $3-5 million

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (AP) — A jersey worn by Kobe Bryant during his rookie season, including two playoff games, will be auctioned off.

The jersey from the 1996-97 season could fetch between $3 million and $5 million at an online auction starting May 18, SCP Auctions’ David Kohler said on Saturday.

“We think it could set a record for any basketball jersey,” he said.

Kohler said the seller, who wishes to remain anonymous, has owned the jersey for 25 years.

The seller approached Kohler after seeing another of Bryant’s rookie jerseys go for $3.69 million last year. This autographed, game-worn yellow jersey fetched the highest price ever for a basketball jersey.

Also last year, a Bryant rookie trading card sold for $1.8 million. None of the 2021 sales were made by SCP Auctions.

The upcoming auction includes the No. 8 jersey Bryant wore for the Los Angeles Lakers in regular-season wins at the Old Forum on April 13, 1997, against Utah and April 17, 1997, against Sacramento.

He donned the same jersey at home on May 8 and 10 in the Western Conference semifinals against Utah. The Lakers won Game 1, with Bryant scoring 19 points. They lost the second game in which he had nine points. They then lost the series, 4-1, to wrap up Bryant’s rookie year.

The authenticity of the jersey was verified by independent authenticators, who photo-matched it, Kohler said. This process involves examining an item’s unique characteristics. It was also associated with a 1997 trading card featuring Bryant wearing the jersey. It features a logo representing the 50th anniversary of the NBA.

Kohler said the market for Bryant memorabilia remains “very, very strong” two years after his death.

“As long as it’s the real stuff,” Kohler said. “He is loved.”

Bryant was killed on January 26, 2020 in a helicopter crash in California that also claimed the lives of his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others.

The jersey can be viewed by appointment at SCP Auctions in Laguna Niguel. Bidding ends June 4.

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