Kobe Bryant will play H-O-R-S-E for charity for just $22,322.22, if you’ve got the change

When someone bid $67,100 last month to win the clear protective face mask that Kobe Bryant wore after suffering a broken nose earlier this season, most folks probably had two reactions — one, that it's pretty cool that a piece of plastic that Bryant only wore for a week could bring in that kind of cash to help the homeless (proceeds from the auction benefited the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation's Youth Homelessness Initiative), and two, that $67,100 is an awful lot of money to spend on a piece of plastic that Bryant only wore for a week.

That latter thought is likely ringing a bit louder in quite a few heads on Tuesday morning, because we now know that for less than one-third the cost of that beak protector, you could have actually met Kobe Bryant, set foot on a basketball court with him and played a game of H-O-R-S-E with him ... which, call me crazy, sounds a bit cooler than the mask.

The week-long auction drew just 27 bids, compared to 129 for the mask, with the winning entrant pledging $22,322.22 just 78 seconds before the auction's 4 p.m. Pacific time close on Monday afternoon. That 22 grand entitles the winner and one friend/family member to play against Kobe at his basketball camp on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, campus on July 2.

The Lakers star will also autograph an item for each of the players and take pictures with the players and two additional guests, and they'll get the whole thing on video. So, you get the experience and some swag, all for less than one-third the price of the mask. Seems like a pretty good deal.

Of course, the collector's argument would likely be based around possession and how scarcity dictates value. Even though you get the video, you don't own a game of H-O-R-S-E with Kobe in the same way that you own the mask you bought, physically and for the rest of your life (or, at least, until you try to flip it). And there are tons of items out there in the marketplace bearing Kobe's John Hancock, but one clear plastic mask that we all thought looked pretty funny; if you own that, you own something unique.

I can understand that argument, I guess. But I think people arguing that the mask's worth more than the H-O-R-S-E either A) like the trappings of the game more than the game itself or B) haven't considered the possibilities open to someone who can get very good at very weird, very specific types of shots, and then force Kobe Bryant, via rules, to follow suit. To get to make Kobe do something like crabwalk his way across the lane and try to kick a ball into the basket, and to do it for nearly $45,000 less than the mask wound up costing, seems like about as good a value as you could possibly get, especially if your money's going to as worthy a charitable cause as helping the homeless. Total win-win.

Also, a note for the winning bidder: If you want to get a leg up, see if you can make Kobe shoot from the left wing or corner. Just a little pro-tip from your friends at BDL.

Hat-tip to Kevin Ding at the Orange County Register, by way of SLAM.