Kobe Bryant rookie cards have been hobby royalty for decades, and his untimely death in January of 2020 only magnified his stature among collectors.
From the moment the Charlotte Hornets drafted Kobe with the 13th pick in the June 1996 NBA Draft — and, really, even before — as a high schooler, Kobe had high expectations heaped on him.
Those pressures exploded less than a month later when the Hornets traded Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac.
And, just like that, the Lakers had their new face of the franchise, the “kid” who was going to lead them back to the top of the NBA heap.
Not only that, but young Kobe was being hailed as the “Next Michael Jordan,” an impossible yoke to bear that he nevertheless handled with great aplomb while doing little to dispel the idea with his play on the court — increased minutes and scoring averages over his first several seasons, and an NBA title after his third.
From there, it was just up, up, up, with two scoring titles and four more championships to accompany his 18 All-Star and 15 All-NBA selections.
And, sure, there were controversies and even criminal problems along the way, from Kobe’s not-so-friendly banter with teammate Shaquille O’Neal to his much publicized sexual assault incident in a Colorado hotel room.
Through it all, though, Kobe continued his march toward the Hall of Fame and managed to carve out his own unique spotlight in the sport, separate and different from Jordan’s, O’Neal’s, LeBron James’, and everyone else’s.
Bryant retired after the 2015-16 season as a lifetime Laker (draft notwithstanding), which of course helped to elevate his profile in the game and hobby even further.
Collectors sure took note, and we made his first cards in the 1996-97 sets like Topps, Bowman, Flair, and Upper Deck among the hottest of all hoops cards right from the tip, and, just like the man himself, we — and his cards — never looked back.
Today, Kobe Bryant rookies remain among the hottest of all basketball cards, and you can get an eyeful anytime you want to over on eBay.
To help whet your appetite for that show, then, here are the hottest, most watched Kobe Bryant rookie cards on eBay right now. It’s a fun list to watch, and updated every few minutes … so check back often!
(NOTE: The section below contains affiliate links to eBay listings for the card shown.)