Kobe Bryant’s 1996 rookie season was a historic time in the basketball card hobby, as Topps Chrome emerged as a top tier brand, and many other sets created refractors, die cuts, and rare serial numbered inserts and parallels. Here is a list of the most valuable Kobe Bryant cards, including rookies and inserts from the late 90s and 2000s.
Most Valuable Kobe Bryant Rookie Cards
1996 Skybox E-X2000 Credentials and Base #30 Kobe Bryant
On 10/27/2021 a PSA 10 of the Credentials parallel sold for $617,460, and on 2/22/2021 a PSA 10 of the base version sold for $87,100. The white backdrop of this parallel version is an identical design of the 1996 Skybox E-X2000 base Kobe Bryant card, which features a green background and no “Credentials” stamp in the corner.
The Credentials parallel is serial numbered to 499 and has a PSA 10 population of just 4, pushing the value of the card to the top of Kobe’s rookies.
The base version has been graded over 5,000 times but has a PSA 10 population of only 24.
While rarity certainly creates scarcity and drives up value, I also think the design makes it highly sought after and can be seen in the high values of the base version compared to other Kobe rookies which have similar populations of gem mint copies.
1996 Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 0 & 1 #31 Kobe Bryant
On 5/24/2021 a PSA 10 of the Row 0 sold for $233,700 and a Row 1 sold for $100,860. Both sales were part of a Goldin Elite auction. There is also a Row 2 parallel, however there is no gem mint sales of the card according to the PSA website.
All 3 cards have single digit PSA 10s, and there are only 19 10s in total.
The unique and distinct portrait plus action card design makes the Flair cards really stand out amongst other basketball card designs of the 90s. Despite the high sale prices of these elite versions, you can still pick up lesser grades of the same designs in the base Flair, making for a great Kobe rookie card to add to your collection.
1996 Topps Chrome Refractor #138 Kobe Bryant
On 5/24/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $221,400. This sale, like others in the list, were part of a Goldin Elite Auction. With 1996 being the inaugural year of Topps Chrome, this card is sometimes referred to as Kobe’s flagship rookie.
Refractor parallels were included in 1 out of every 12 packs.
While it has a PSA 10 population of 63, which is higher than some other cards on the list, the popularity of the iconic Topps Chrome brand skyrockets the card’s demand and value.
1996 Finest Refractor w/ Coating #74 Kobe Bryant
On 5/24/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $100,860. Topps Finest featured two different Kobe rookies. This #74 Apprentices rookie was featured on Series 1 hobby boxes which contained cards numbered 1-146.
Finest featured a peel off sticker over each card to protect the surface. Some collectors choose to leave the protective coating on for grading, and PSA designates this in their population report.
The refractor parallels of Kobe’s rookie fetch much higher values, particularly in Gem Mint condition.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 25.
1996 Finest Refractor w/ Coating #269 Kobe Bryant
On 8/11/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $55,350. Series two featured card #269 Kobe Byrant in a gold bordered “Heirs” design, which has both a base and refractor parallel version. Despite the atomic refractor look of the card it is still designated as only a refractor.
Just like its series one counterpart, the refractors fetch much higher prices. This card in particular also sells for more than the series one rookie, most likely due to the preferred design.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 45.
1996 Bowmans Best Rookies #R23 Kobe Bryant Atomic Refractor
On 11/20/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $25,100. Kobe had a variety of rookie cards in the 1996 Bowman’s Best set, but the most rare atomic refractor in Gem Mint condition as shown above definitely sells for a premium.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 35, which is even less than the Topps Chrome refractor, but as you can see the popularity of Topps Chrome sells for many multiples higher than Bowman’s Best.
1996 Skybox E-X2000 Star Date 2000 #3 Kobe Bryant
On 12/6/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $9,500. While this Star Date insert doesn’t sell for nearly as much as the more rare base or ultra rare Credentials – it is still one of the most iconic designs of Kobe’s rookie card selection.
While a PSA 10 sells for anywhere from $7k-$15k at its peak, you can still pick up a PSA 8 for around $750.
With a star-studded rookie class and such amazing card designs, the hobby boxes of 1996 Skybox E-X2000 can sell for upwards of $10k.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 93.
1996 Skybox Premium Star Rubies #55 Kobe Bryant
On 3/12/2022 a PSA 10 sold for $13,200. Skybox Premium emerged as a mid-tier brand, with the Star Rubies parallels being the main attraction. While it is unknown just how many Star Rubies were printed, a safe estimate is between 100 and 250 according to some hobby discussion.
This card would have been featured in 1996 Skybox Premium series 1 hobby boxes. The muted background is a stark contrast to the Kobe aerial pose.
The base version of this card in a PSA 10 slab typically sells for $500-$700. As you can see, the rare and limited print run of the Star Ruby parallel really brings up the value.
It has a PSA 10 population of 18.
1996 Skybox Premium Star Rubies #203 Kobe Bryant
On 7/21/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $8,650. This Star Ruby parallel would have been featured in 1996 Skybox Premium series 2 hobby boxes.
With similar pricing as a base card, its really a matter of preference for design on these two cards. If you are a Lakers fan, the coloring and prominent Lakers logo make this a great collectible.
The #203 Star Ruby card has a PSA 10 population of 18.
1996 Fleer Ultra Platinum Medallion Kobe Bryant #P266
On 7/21/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $10,700.
Similar to the Star Ruby cards, these Fleer Ultra parallels called Platinum Medallion differ from the base card only in the crystal metallic shine in the Ultra logo along with a designation in the lower left-hand corner.
Prices tend to hover around the $8k-$10K range for a PSA 10 copy, although considering it has a PSA 10 population of 8 and only 59 have ever been graded, not many ever really pop up for sale. It can be found in 1996 Fleer Ultra Series 2 hobby boxes.
1996 Fleer Ultra Platinum Medallion Kobe Bryant #P52
On 5/24/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $111,930 at a Goldin Elite auction.
This sale coincided with a large spike in graded card sales across the hobby and sticks out as quite the anomaly compared to a sale in February of 2019 for $6,000.
However, It has a PSA 10 population of only 8, which makes it quite the rare Kobe rookie card. 114 copies have been graded.
Since this card does have a more iconic design than its series 2 counterpart, I would expect it to fetch top sale price, but the $100k+ price tag does seem excessive.
1996 Skybox Premium New Editions #3 Kobe Bryant
On 1/7/2022 a PSA 10 sold for $5,400. Out of all Kobe rookie cards, this has to be the most unique design. Featuring a strange typographic treatment reminiscent to “It Came from Outer Space” and a Nintendo Gameboy-like border, this die-cut card is very prone to chipping along the edges.
Because of the chipping, it only has a PSA 10 population of 22. Copies of this card most often get a PSA 8 Near Mint designation. Those copies tend to sell for around $500-$700.
Most Valuable Kobe Bryant Cards – Rare Inserts (1997-2018)
1997 Skybox E-X2001 Essential Credentials Future #8 Kobe Bryant
On 5/7/2021 a PSA 6.5 sold for $45,301. It might seem odd that such a low grade would go for such a high price, but there are a few good reasons for this.
For one, it is Serial Numbered to just 73. The Essential Credentials Future cards had a unique serial numbering system where the card number was equal to the print run.
This card also has a semi-transparent acetate material, which can cause chipping of the coloring along the edges making it near impossible to pull a mint condition card even from a pack.
As such, it has a PSA 10 population of 0. The highest grade of the card is a Mint 9 (only 2), and only 11 have ever been graded by PSA.
Kobe’s other parallel, the Essential Credentials Now version, was serial numbered in reverse. With just over 80 cards in the set, only 8 exist and only one has been graded by PSA. If one ever came up for auction, it would easily reach 6-figures, perhaps 7-figures.
1997 Skybox E-X2001 Jambalaya #12JB Kobe Bryant
On 5/24/2021 a PSA 10 sold for $57,600. Yet another great insert set in the E-X2001 set is this oval-shaped die cut card which has become iconic among collectors.
While not serial numbered, these did have what could be called a SPP (or Super Short Print run). It was estimated to only exist in 1 out of every 720 packs of 1997-98 Fleer Skybox EX-2001 Basketball Hobby Boxes.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 15, and only 50 have ever been graded by PSA.
1997 Flair Showcase Legacy Collection Row 0 #18 Kobe Bryant
On 1/3/2021 a PSA 9 sold for $16,888. Flair Showcase followed up their 1996 designs with a similar in-action gameplay look, but lacking the large portrait. Instead, they opted for a more geometric background pattern that has refractor characteristics set on a horizontal frame.
The Legacy Collection versions of 1997 Flair Showcase are serial numbered to 100, making them quite rare.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 6.
While this card will likely always sell for less than his rookie of the same brand/insert set, it will always be an iconic set of the mid-90s.
1997 Hoops High Voltage 500 Volts #1HV Kobe Bryant
On 2/26/2021 a PSA 8 sold for $13,650. While NBA Hoops is never really known for high end inserts, these High Voltage 500 Volts cards are an exception.
It is Serial Numbered to 500, and there is a base insert version of this card as well, only it is more common and not serial numbered.
The main difference in the design from the regular High Voltage cards are the 500 Volts designnation on the front, along with a different refractor-like pattern when shown in the light.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 1.
Another notable player in this set is Tim Duncan, who was a rookie in 1997.
1997 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems #81 Kobe Bryant
On 8/31/2021 a PSA Authentic of the PMG red sold for $87,330.
On 2/2/2022 a BGS 8.5 of the PMG green sold for $2,000,000.
The Precious Metal Gems inserts of the 90s have emerged as the most iconic insert set of the decade and perhaps of all time.
The red background parallels were serial numbered to 90 and the greens to only 10.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 0, which isn’t surprising since the typically came with chipping along the high gloss edges straight out of the pack.
The red Kobe PMG has only been graded 16 times and the green just twice.
These cards almost never come up for auction, as for many collectors it would be considered a holy-grail card. If and when they do, expect record sales to be set nearly every time.
1997 Skybox Premium Star Rubies #23SR & #226SR Kobe Bryant
On 5/24/2021 a PSA 9 of the #23SR parallel sold for $87,330.
On 5/25/2021 a PSA 8 of the #226SR sold for $47,970.
Despite the fact that these are second year Kobe Bryant cards, Skybox vastly improved the designs from his rookie year, particularly with the refractor-like background design of the Star Ruby parallels.
These Star Ruby cards are also serial numbered to only 50, making them more rare than the previous year.
Not surprisingly, the pop on these cards are super low and only one PSA 10 copy exists.
1997 Ultra Platinum Medallion #1P & #252P Kobe Bryant
On 11/1/2020 the #1P design in a PSA 8 slab sold for $11,070.
On 1/21/2019 the #252P design in a PSA 10 slab sold for $2,940.
Fleer Ultra continued with its rare Platinum Medallion parallel in 1997, this time the cards were serial numbered to just 100.
Again, one was featured in Series 1 hobby boxes, the other perhaps less notable design was in series 2.
Each card has a PSA 10 population of 1 and has been graded by PSA only 20 times, 17 of which come from the #1P design.
2003 E-X Essential Credentials #9 Kobe Bryant
On 6/21/2021 a PSA 10 of the Essential Credentials Future sold for $12,500.
In 2003, E-X resurrected the Essential Credentials Future and Essential Credentials Now serial numbered parallels.
These cards also featured an acetate finish and had the same odd serial numbering for each of the parallel sets.
The Essential Credentials Future is Serial Numbered to 94, while the Essential Credentials Now is numbered to just 9.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 4.
2003 UD Exquisite Autograph Patches #AP-KB Kobe Bryant
On 4/23/2020 a PSA 9 sold for $9,017. The 2003 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection, with its lineup of stars and rare cards along with being LeBron James rookie year, has emerged in the hobby as quite the set full of grail cards for many collectors.
There are a variety of patch and autograph cards from this set. This particular #AP-KB is serial numbered to 100 and has a PSA 10 population of just 1.
Since this sale was from early in 2020, I would expect a PSA 9 copy of this card to sell well over $10k if it hit market today. The lone PSA 10 would probably eclipse $100k.
2003 UD Exquisite Limited Logos #LL-KB Kobe Bryant
On 2/19/2022 a PSA 10 sold for $360,000. It is serial numbered to 75.
Since this is the lone sale of the only PSA 10 copy in existence of the 2003 Limited Logos Kobe, its no wonder the sale price crept up near the top of all-time sales for a Kobe card.
2004-05 UD “Exquisite Collection” Number Pieces Autographs #NP-KB Kobe Bryant
A copy of this Signed Game Used Patch Card (serial numbered to 8) – BGS NM-MT+ 8.5 with a BGS 10 auto sold for $173,430.
2004 Exquisite may not be quite as popular as the inaugural 2003 set, but it still commands huge prices with some of the more rare auto and patch cards from the all-time greats.
This card has never been graded by PSA.
2008-09 Topps Chrome Gold Refractor #24 Kobe Bryant
On 4/6/2021 a PSA 9 sold for $157,200. It should be noted this was during peak values in early 2021 during a historic Goldin Auction.
This card really hits the trifecta of collecting. It features both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, it’s from the Topps Chrome brand, and its a gold parallel serial numbered to only 50.
The card has only been graded by PSA 13 times, with 7 of them being graded a PSA 10.
Compared to some other rare high end cards, these Topps Chrome refractors tend to have a strong card stock and are not prone to chipping. This leaves them with higher overall mint percentages if you look at the PSA pop reports.
2015-16 Panini Prizm Kobe Bryant #182 Prizms Gold
On 4/6/2021 a BGS 9.5 sold for $145,200. It is serial numbered to 10.
This card has a PSA 10 population of 3, and 1 PSA 9, for a total PSA pop of just 4. On 5/21/2019 a PSA 9 copy sold for just over $1,700.
Although this is an early Prizm Gold card and will certainly be a grail for some card owners, this particular sale seems a bit high. Then again, only time will tell on how historic and valued Prizm Gold parallels will become.
1998-99 Fleer Brilliants 24kt Gold #70TG Kobe Bryant
On a PSA NM+ 7.5 sold for $109,200. It is serial numbered to 24.
Two years removed from his rookie season, Fleer Brilliants was released and while it doesn’t have a large number of parallel and insert cards, it is quite the set and includes rookies such as Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and Paul Pierce.
Here is a rundown of the parallels:
- Brilliant Blue (Veteran 1:3 packs, Rookies 1:6 packs)
- Brilliant Gold (sequentially numbered to 99)
- 24-Karat Gold (sequentially numbered to 24)
The Pulsars insert parallels are another known valuable card from this set and were inserted into 1 out of every 400 packs.
2000 Upper Deck “Game Jersey Patch 2” #KB-PA Kobe Bryant
During a Golding Elite auction, a BGS MINT 9 with BGS 10 Auto sold for $105,780. Upper Deck came out with a number of patch and auto cards inserted into Series 1 hobby boxes.
According to the auto on the card, it is serial numbered to only 8 and represents an historic moment in Kobe’s playoff career when he carried the Lakers to a victory in overtime versus the Indiana Pacers.
This card has never been graded by PSA.
2009 UD SP Game Used Logo Men #LOGO-KB Kobe Bryant
During a Goldin Elite Auction, a BGS NM-MT+ 8.5 sold for $79,200. Inserted into 2009 SP Game Used hobby boxes, this iconic Logo Men insert set featured Kobe and was serial numbered to just 11.
Lebron James also has a Logo Men card featured in this set.
Kobe’s copy has never been graded by PSA.
2009 Playoff National Treasures “Notable Nicknames” #NN-KB Kobe Bryant
On 4/6/2021 a PSA GEM MT 10 sold for $73,200, and on 10/27/2021 another PSA 10 sold for $18,450.
The sale in early 2021 is a great illustration of just how high the markets were at the time, considering one sold that fall by the same auction house for significantly less.
These Playoff National Treasure autos have only been graded 4 times by PSA, with two of them receiving 10s.
1997 Ultra Stars Gold #3 Kobe Bryant
On 4/6/2021 a BGS GEM MINT 9.5 sold for $67,200, and on 10/6/2021 a PSA 9 $18,450. Both were part of Golding auctions.
The Ultra Stars insert was rare enough on its own, and this Gold parallel is even more rare at a staggering 1 out of 28,000 packs.
The Gold parallel has only been graded 20 times by PSA, with only 5 getting a gem mint grade. By contrast, the base insert version has been graded 82 times, with 14 getting a 10 by PSA.
These Ultra Stars will continue to be one of the top collectible insert sets of the mid 90s, as the set also features Michael Jordan and Kobe’s teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
2018 Panini Prizm “Prizms Gold” #15 Kobe Bryant
On 5/23/2021 a BGS GEM MINT 9.5 sold for $54,000. While there are a seeming endless number of parallels Panini Prizm decided to produce, the golds are always the rarest and typically serial numbered to 10.
This card has only been graded by PSA 4 times, with 3 receiving a 10.
Since there is so much going on with the parallels, here is a good resource by Beckett to look up all the different parallels in the set.
2012 Panini Prizm “Most Valuable Players” Prizms Gold #3 Kobe Bryant
A BGS 9.5 sold for $46,800.
The Gold parallel of this “Most Valuable Players” insert were serial numbered to 10.
For comparison, On 2/23/2021 a PSA 10 of the base version sold for $3,850.
Lebron James, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and more were all featured in this insert set, which was also the first year for Panini Prizm.
2017 Panini Impeccable All-Stars Autographs #16 Kobe Bryant
A BGS GEM MINT 9.5 sold for $36,000. Serial Numbered to 18.
This card has never been graded by PSA, but just for comparison, a PSA 8 copy of Stephen Curry for this same card sold on 5/23/2021 for $12,850 at a PWCC auction.
1998 Fleer Playmakers Theatre #3 Kobe Bryant
On a BGS MINT 9 sold for $36,000.
Serial Numbered to just 100, PSA has only graded this card 5 times and a 9 is the highest grade.
This insert set features 15 players and joining Kobe are Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, and Scottie Pippen.
Judging by the grades PSA is giving these inserts, they must be very prone to chipping as a majority of the cards were given a PSA 8 Near Mint designation.
A PSA 10 copy of Michael Jordan’s card from this set does exist, and was sold for a whopping $186,960 in early 2021.
Kobe Bryant Most Valuable Cards Conclusion
This list does leave out some dual patch and auto cards, along with some ultra rare 1 of 1 cards that almost never hit the market.
However, it should give you some idea of the wide range of Kobe Bryant cards worth money that have been produced over the years along with some less expensive parallel versions of each that are more attainable to basketball card collectors looking to add Kobe cards to their portfolio.