Kobe Bryant rookie jersey sells for record $3.69 million

Kobe Bryant, 17, jokes with the media as he holds his Los Angeles Lakers jersey during a news conference.

An autographed Kobe Bryant jersey sold for a record $3.69 million last weekend, which according to Darren Rovell of the Action Network makes it the highest-selling basketball jersey ever. The game-worn yellow No.8 was photo-matched to the jerseys Bryant wore during his rookie season with the Lakers in 1996-97.

The jersey was sold to billionaire entrepreneur Bob Duggan through Goldin Auctions and received 50 bids with a starting bid of $100,000. Goldin has sold four other game-worn jerseys from Bryant's rookie season, the previous highest selling price being $65,280 from last year.

Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft and promptly traded to the Lakers, where he spent his entire 20-year career. His rookie season production was modest; he averaged 7.6 points per game. By his second season, he made the first of his 18 All-Star teams. He would win five NBA championships.

The auctioned jersey is billed as the only known independently photo-matched jersey from Bryant's rookie season. It's been photo matched — or the process by which an object's authenticity is established through its unique characteristics — to several games from his first year and a pre-season photo shoot, offering the possibility that it's one of, if not the very first, jersey Bryant wore as a Laker.

In March, a rare rookie card of Bryant's sold for nearly $1.8 million. It was also sold through Goldin.

Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January 2020 as he was taking his daughter Gianna to a basketball game in northern Los Angeles County. Earlier this month, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020 by his widow, Vanessa. Goldin was a sponsor of Bryant's induction and held a special "Hall of Fame" auction that included rare sneakers and a championship ring.

Earlier this month, a jersey from Michael Jordan's college days at North Carolina was sold for $1.38 million, the highest-selling Jordan jersey ever.

Babe Ruth still holds the record for highest-selling jersey in all of sports. In 2019, a game-worn Yankees jersey of his fetched $5.64 million.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.