Kobe Bryant has close to seven thousand unique NBA-licensed trading cards, according to Beckett’s massive online database. As the Los Angeles Trading Card Examiner, I feel an obligation to let people know about these cards, whether they collect the Black Mamba or not. Come back tomorrow for another Kobe Bryant card to look and admire and wish you had and if you like the Clippers superstar Blake Griffin, check out the Blake Griffin Card of the Day.
Card: 1997-98 Topps Finest Gold Refractor #323
- This is a refractor parallel version to the regular gold card.
- There is are other parallels of this card, including an embossed die-cut card which also has a refractor version. I’ll explain later.
- Card is serial numbered to 289.
- Last eBay sale: none recently, although an uncommon refractor version sold for $31.00 plus shipping. Ok, here comes the explanation. Breathe…
- In an effort to give collectors choice (no pun intended), Topps created themed numbering for their cards in Finest. In addition to being card #323, Kobe’s card was also CR18 (CR being the abbreviation of the Creators subset) and carried a “Rare/Gold” distinction. Kobe also had a Common/Bronze and an Uncommon/Silver card, which also had their own unique numbering. And that’s on top of the levels of parallels. So if you wanted to collect just Rare Creator Refractors, but not the embossed die-cut or even the refractor versions, there was a unique combination of numbers and letters just for you. I swear that made sense in my head.
- In 1997-98, Kobe Bryant was still an Adidas spokesman and was wearing his original jersey number.
- Guarding Kobe on the card is Isiah “JR” Rider, a man of many talents, some of which included basketball. Later on, Rider and Kobe would become teammates on the legendary 2001-02 Lakers squad that nearly swept the playoffs.
- The back of the card reads: “Bryant brims with potential and production. An explosive swingman, he drives to the rack in an instant and finishes with highlight-film jams. He also handles the rock well enough to play the point.”
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