Kobe Bryant's Game-Worn Lakers Rookie Jersey Sells for $3.7M at Auction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2021

Los Angeles Laker guard Kobe Bryant (8) passes to a teammate under the basket as Houston Rockets, Sam Mack looks on during the first half at the Forum in Inglewood, California on Friday, March 7, 1997. (AP Photo/E. J. Flynn)
E. J. Flynn/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant earned a little more than $1 million as a rookie in the NBA. One jersey he wore during that season nearly quadrupled that number on its own.

A game-worn and autographed Bryant jersey from 1996-97 fetched nearly $3.7 million through Goldin Auctions. According to the listing, the jersey was photo-matched to seven of Bryant's games and a preseason photoshoot in which he took part:

Goldin Auctions @GoldinAuctions

Final Sale Price: $3,690,000 An all-time record for any basketball jersey. An all-time record for any Kobe Bryant item. https://t.co/7VUnahOH2h

Because of that, Goldin Auctions speculated this may have been one of the first Lakers jerseys Bryant ever wore.

The Lakers pulled off what proved to be one of the greatest trades in NBA history when they sent Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for Bryant, the No. 13 pick in the 1996 draft.

The Hall of Famer had a nondescript start to his career, averaging 7.6 points and 1.3 assists in 71 appearances, though he did win the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest:

Bryant's profile really started to rise in his second year, when he made the first of 18 All-Star appearances. Fans didn't know it at the time, but the 1998 All-Star Game proved to be a symbolic changing of the guard from Michael Jordan to Bryant:

Sunday's transaction is a testament to Bryant's enduring popularity well after his retirement in 2016 and following his untimely death in January 2020.