Kobe Bryant jersey sells for $1.75 million at Sotheby's

Bryant's game-worn jersey from the 2009 NBA Finals highlights day of Lakers auctions

Cover Image for Kobe Bryant jersey sells for $1.75 million at Sotheby's

The Los Angeles Lakers Capsule Collection, the first of six auctions comprising Sotheby’s Sports Week, closed Wednesday afternoon, highlighted by Kobe Bryant’s 2009 NBA Finals game-worn jersey selling for $1.75 million.

Bryant wore the jersey in Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Finals, when he scored a Finals career-high 40 points and led the Lakers to a 100-75 victory over the Orlando Magic. In the postgame press conference, Bryant told reporters “I think the best thing we can do is just forget about it.” The Lakers would go on to win the series 4-1, marking Bryant’s fourth championship.

The sale, which garnered just one bid, fell short of the record price paid for a jersey from Bryant's 2007-08 MVP-season, photo-matched to 25 games — including one of the most iconic images of his career, when Bryant "popped his jersey" to celebrate during a playoff win over Denver — which sold for $5.8 million in February 2023 at Sotheby’s.

A Bryant-signed ball sold for $15,240, a remarkable result for a simple autograph on a common ball, unaffiliated with game play. Though the jersey will grab the headlines, this sale might be the most important data point in the entire auction, as it stands as a testament to the hot market for all things Kobe, commanding stunning sums for otherwise unimpressive pieces.

Another ball, signed by L.A.'s 2000 NBA championship team, including both Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, received a flurry of activity in extended bidding, ultimately securing $38,100 — more than triple the initial high estimate.

One of the most compelling lots in the auction was the rim from the game when LeBron James broke the NBA’s all-time scoring record, which sold for $152,400. In lieu of his jersey from that evening hitting the auction block, Sotheby’s found a unique way to capture a piece of the moment for the high-end market.

LeBron’s game-worn jersey from the night he topped 38,000 points closed at $393,700.

The auction was not restricted to the most valuable segment of the memorabilia market, however.

Multiple NBA Championship rings — none of which were player-issued — sold, with the top example, a 1982 Employee copy, selling for $4,445 (less than half the initial low estimate).

The intrigue surrounding these sales was overshadowed by Goldin Auction’s recent $927,200 auction of a 2000 Kobe Bryant championship ring, originally gifted to his father. Sotheby’s rings’ designations as inferior examples, as well as their lack of attribution to a famous player, resulted in a fraction of Joe Bryant ring’s closing price.

Other sales of less prominent Lakers’ jerseys are likely to raise fewer eyebrows, such as a game-worn piece from Kyle Kuzma, which hit $2,032.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct. You can follow him on X at @Will__Stern.