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The market has finally started to slow down, allowing for a number of bargains even when compared to a few months ago.
Here’s everything you need to know about Kobe’s UD RCs, with a full checklist featuring some of the best cards from the late 1990s.
1996 Kobe Bryant Upper Deck Cards Checklist
A range of Upper Deck basketball cards was released to coincide with the 1996-97 season.
This includes sub-brands that also have a UD logo located on the reverse.
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1996 Kobe Bryant Upper Deck Card #58
The #58 Kobe card is one of the more questionable in terms of design, featuring a shot of the young rookie smiling at the camera with a pair of white shades on his head.
However, it does manage to capture his essence, and the tab on the left-hand side is supposed to resemble a basketball, with silver chrome trim.
1996 Kobe Bryant UD3 RC #43
One of the more valuable cards to make it onto the list, it’s easy to see why when looking at the UD3 ‘Aerial Artists’ subset.
Again, Bryant is featured soaring towards the net, with a black-and-white background that helps the player to pop out of the card.
If you’re looking for a card to hold and display proudly, this has to be on your shortlist.
1996 Kobe Bryant UD Collector’s Choice #267
The Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Series 2 Basketball set is first up, featuring a great shot of Bryant as he leaps through the air.
It’s one of the best-looking non-chrome Kobe RCs, and it’s reasonably affordable compared to many other UD options.
The card also has a profile shot of the player located on the reverse.
1996 Kobe Bryant UD Collector’s Choice #LA2
Similar to the Collector’s Choice card seen above, this #LA2 version of Kobe’s regular base RC was made available in a special LA Lakers set.
It’s the same in terms of the overall design, but you should be able to spot an #LA2 in the top left corner on the reverse.
1996 Kobe Bryant UD3 RC #19
The UD3 brand isn’t the most memorable, but this Kobe card helps to keep serious collectors interested over 20 years on.
The appropriately named Hardwood Prospects subset uses a textured stock that resembles wood. It has a glossy finish, while Bryant is surrounded by foil to help the image stand out.
Once again, strong design choices make for another memorable card from his rookie season.
You’ll also spot a familiar Upper Deck logo on the reverse.
1996 Kobe Bryant Upper Deck SPx Die-Cut #22
The rare SPx Die-Cut features holo images, a custom cut, and a premium look and feel. (At least, it did back in 1996.)
This still holds true today, and you’ll struggle to find a more expensive option from the Upper Deck stable.
With that being said, the Die-Cut Gold parallel is even more valuable and has to be seen as one of the best UD Kobe cards overall.
Expect it to burn a serious hole in your wallet, especially when looking at the best-graded versions.
1996 Kobe Bryant Upper Deck Rookie Exclusives #R10
It’s obvious what Upper Deck was going for with the design of this subset.
This time, they’ve gone for a weird angle of Kobe in the image, with his junk in your face and his face looming down.
Basketball is the theme, so he’s holding one, and the background resembles an old-school regulation ball.
You’ll find a chrome UD logo in the bottom left corner, along with a large ‘Exclusives 97’ label on the other side.
1996 Kobe Bryant Upper Deck SP #134
1996-97 SP Basketball mixed foil, holograms, and premium aspects to make for a collection of cards that have stood the test of time.
The base Kobe card from the ‘96 SP set features a full-bleed image of the player as he rests his chin on a basketball.
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There’s a large blue tab on the left, making space for a large ‘Premier Prospects’ logo, as well as his name and team. You’ll also spot a small action shot located on the reverse.
1996 Kobe Bryant SP Holoviews Premium Collection #PC18
The final Kobe card to make the list is from the SP Holoviews subset. Numbered #PC18, it stands for ‘Premium Collection’.
That’s evident when looking at the front of the card, with a trio of images that feature the Lakers star.
As the name suggests, there’s a holo image in the bottom left corner, and the card has a silver chrome trim for the SP logo.
1996 Kobe Bryant Upper Deck Card Worth
The most expensive 1996 Upper Deck Kobe Bryant basketball card is between the 1996 Kobe Bryant UD Collector’s Choice RC #267 or the 1996 Kobe Bryant Upper Deck Rookie Exclusives RC #R10 have comparable sold prices.
Kobe Bryant Upper Deck Cards Investment Outlook
Upper Deck was a force to be reckoned with during the late 1990s, with great designs in a variety of different sets.
You can’t go wrong with Bryant’s Upper Deck Basketball Cards, of which the Gold Die-Cut (#22) easily stands out from the crowd.
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It’s worth a serious amount for a reason, and there are only a handful of gem mint graded versions according to the PSA registry.
There are also numerous affordable options that have to be seen as decent long-term investment pieces.
Bryant is a Hall of Famer who is only going to be remembered fondly in the future. This is especially true following his untimely death in January 2020.