According to SCP Auctions, a game-worn Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey from his rookie year sold for $2,735,546 last weekend. The jersey was worn by Bryant on May 8 and May 10, 1997, in the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz. This is the only game-worn playoff jersey publicly known or available from Bryant’s rookie season.
Another of Bryant’s rookie season jerseys sold for $3.69 million last year. That particular jersey was autographed, and game-worn from the regular season. The price was the highest ever for a basketball jersey.
Authenticating and verifying game worn jerseys is a process to ensure that a buyer is receiving credible merchandise. The playoff jersey was photomatched in high resolution and an LOA was provided by Resolution Photomatching, Sports Investors Authentication, and MeiGray, affirming same.
In the game on May 8, Bryant came off the bench and scored 19 points to help the Lakers win 104-84.
Bryant scored nine points off the bench on the 10th in a 110-95 loss that saw the Jazz take a 3-1 series lead. The Jazz won the series in five and advanced all the way to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.
The authentication service also identified the jersey as being worn in regular season games on April 11, April 13, and April 17. In those games Bryant combined to score 22 points and six assists in victories over the Phoenix Suns, Jazz, and Sacramento Kings.
On Jan. 26, 2020, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed, along with 7 other people, as their helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, California. They were on their way to basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy .
One of the greatest players to ever do it, Bryant was a five-time champion, two-time Finals MVP, and league MVP. He was an 18-time All-Star, four-time All-Star MVP, 15-time All-NBA, 12-time All-Defense and two-time scoring champion. He spent his entire 20-year career as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. His numbers (8 and 24) hang in the rafters at the Lakers home arena.
Bryant was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020 and named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021. The NBA All-Star Game MVP trophy is named in his honor.
In his post-playing career he won an Academy Award in 2018 for his animated short “Dear Basketball,” a love letter to the game.
The film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City in 2017, and I had the chance to ask Bryant why he chose animation as the medium for this story.
“With animation, the drawings are all done by hand,” Bryant told me. “You get to see all the imperfections in that process as you refine to make it great.”
His response was a nod to who he was as a player. The results are great, but the beauty is in the tireless work and the refining of his game to be the best version of himself as a player. That was the mindset he was taking into his second act as a father, mentor and storyteller.