Saturday's NBA: Kobe Bryant rookie jersey to be auctioned, $3M-5M estimate

Associated Press

Laguna Niguel, Calif. — A jersey worn by Kobe Bryant in his rookie season, including two playoff games, will be sold at auction.

The jersey from the 1996-97 season could fetch between $3 million and $5 million in an online auction that begins May 18, David Kohler of SCP Auctions said Saturday.

“We feel this could bring a record for any basketball jersey,” he said.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers legend who won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and one regular-season MVPs. He was an 18-time NBA All-Star. He died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26. He was 41.

Kohler said the seller, who wants to remain anonymous, has had the jersey for 25 years.

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

Also last year, a rookie trading card of Bryant’s sold for $1.8 million. Neither of the 2021 sales were conducted by SCP Auctions.

The upcoming auction features 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 May 10 in the Western Conference semifinals against Utah. The Lakers won the first game, with Bryant scoring 19 points. They lost the second game in which he had nine points. They went on to lose the series, 4-1, to conclude Bryant’s rookie year.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (8) of the goes in shot against the Utah Jazz during the second half of NBA playoff basketball game on May 8, 1997, in Inglewood, Calif. The jersey worn by Kobe Bryant in his rookie season, including two playoff games, will be sold at auction. David Kohler of SCP Auctions says the jersey from the 1996-97 season could fetch between $3 million and $5 million in an online auction that begins May 18.

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

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’s beloved.”

Bryant was killed on Jan. 26, 2020, in a California helicopter crash that also took 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. The auction ends June 4.

NBA fines Suns $25,000 over injury reporting rules

The NBA fined the Phoenix Suns fined $25,000 on Saturday for violating injury reporting rules by failing to disclose guard Devin Booker’s participation status in an accurate and timely manner before Game 6 of the first-round playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) in the second half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 28, 2022 in New Orleans. The Suns won 115-109, to win the series 4-2 and advance to the second-round.

Booker returned from a strained right hamstring to help the Suns beat the Pelicans 115-109 on Thursday night in New Orleans in the series-ending game.

The Suns will open the second round at home against Dallas on Monday night.