Life Imitates Art: 2008 Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome Orange Refractor

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2008 Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome Orange Refractor

SHOP: 2008 KOBE BRYANT TOPPS CHROME ORANGE REFRACTOR #24

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant’s careers are masters of their craft, giants of the game of basketball. Their resumes are Hall-of-Fame-worthy:

Bryant: 5x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, MVP, 18x All-Star, 11x First-Team All-NBA.

James (for now): 4x NBA Champion, 3x MVP, 17x All-Star, 17x All-NBA.


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Beyond their statistics, Kobe and LeBron are among the most culturally impactful ballers ever to grace the court. Aside from Jordan, they may be the two most culturally relevant NBA players of all time.

It’s only fitting that these two legends share space on a legendary card: the 2008-09 Kobe-LeBron Topps Chrome Orange Refractor #24, which s limited to 499 copies.

Card of the Month: 2008-09 Kobe Bryant-LeBron James Topps Chrome Orange Refractor #24 (/499)

It’s not often that two legends of the game occupy space on the same beautiful, limited-print card. This card is the kind that comes along once in a blue moon.

 

2008 Topps Chrome Basketball Set Highlights

The 2008-9 Topps Chrome Basketball set is the final entry in the official Topps Chrome Basketball pantheon—until further notice. 2009-10 Topps Chrome cards were merely inserts.

Panini would claim exclusive NBA card rights the following year. You have to believe that the finality of this Topps Chrome set adds to this card’s appeal.

(Side note: Fanatics will take over for Panini in 2026 in an industry-rocking change of power)

The set hit shelves on September 10, 2008.

The Orange Refractor (/499) parallel is one of six. The other Refractors are the base Refractor, X-Fractor (/288), Gold Refractor (/50), Red Refractor (/5), SuperFractor (/1). There is also the Printing Plate (/1) parallel.

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While the Orange Refractor has the largest print run of the colored parallels, this specific card remains a rarity.

Vegas-style lettering defines this set’s design. The circular, multi-colored lettering is an absolutely unique look, though it may not suit every collector’s taste. It certainly works better with some cards and team color schemes than others.

One card that the bright lights-style works well for 2008-09 Kobe Bryant/LeBron James Topps Chrome Orange Refractor #24 (/499).

Other notable cards from this set include the Derrick Rose RC #221 Refractor Autograph (/145), Kevin Love RC #225 (/145), and exclusive parallels featuring prominent players (rookies in particular).

Related: Best LeBron James Rookie Cards

 

About the Card

kobe lebron 2008 topps chrome orange refractor

You’ll struggle to find a card with a more captivating player image than the 2008-09 Kobe Bryant/LeBron James Topps Chrome Orange Refractor #24.

The Black Mamba extends the ball to the left side of his body, just out of the reach of James’ probing right arm. Kobe and LeBron both wear expressions of intense focus.

The clash of Bryant’s white Lakers uniform and James’ red Cavaliers threads are food for the eye. You can’t help but notice the ripples of each player’s muscle tone, reminding us that these guys are all-world athletes.

The purple-and-yellow-clad audience in the backdrop completes this iconic image—each audience member’s eyes are affixed to the greatness in front of them.

For reference, Bryant averaged nearly 27 points in his 2008-09 seasons. James averaged over 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists as a 24-year-old. These guys were both elite at the time of this card’s printing.

 

The Design

Topps Chrome crafted a design that would fit within bygone eras—60s, 70s, or 80s. The orange border is the most eye-catching design feature. That border envelops the image of Bryant and James.

The player image is rectangular with a tab jutting out of the bottom edge. A “Kobe Bryant” nameplate resides within that tab, signifying that this is—at its core—a Kobe Bryant card.

A “Lakers” banner is another prominent feature. Alternating purple and yellow circles surround bold white letters reminiscent of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

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A small Lakers logo and Topps Chrome emblem sit in opposing indentations of the player image. The refractive sheen shines bright, especially in the silver of the “Lakers” letters.

The card’s backside adopts the retro look, too. Kobe’s stats are listed, as is the print-run indicator, a stat about Bryant’s 23 50-point games, and various other design features.

Production Details

As noted, only 499 copies of the LeBron James-Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome Orange Refractor #24 exist. The card has a 35-point thickness and standard size.

 

2008-09 Kobe Bryant-LeBron James Topps Chrome Refractor Card Value

How much does the 2008 Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome Refractor cost?

Excellent question!

You’ll find that top-graded 2008-09 Kobe Bryant-LeBron James Topps Chrome Refractor #24—not the Orange refractor, mind you—are five-figure cards. The Orange refractor, being numbered, costs even more.

This is a premium offering that is well beyond the price range of casual collectors. Of course, copies graded as a 10 command significantly more than even those with a grade of 9.

With only 499 copies in existence and even fewer on the market at any given time, collectors have displayed a hunger for this card.

The latest projected value of the 2008-09 Kobe Bryant (LeBron James) Topps Chrome Orange Refractor #24 in which only 499 were printed is just over $21,000 at a PSA 10 grade (via GoldCardAdvisor.com).

 

2008-09 Kobe Bryant-LeBron James Topps Chrome Refractor Long-Term Outlook 

Limited print runs are always good for a card’s value. With only 499 copies in circulation, buyers and sellers know that there is a hard ceiling on the supply of this card.

Price points for this card to date remain strong and steady. In the long term, this is a card that has a strong store of value.

This card’s “Pros” column includes:

  • the inclusion of not one, but two First-Ballot, Hall-of-Fame legends
  • A limited print run
  • a stellar player image and strong design

Though we would never list it as a “Pro”, there is an uncomfortable reality to face: Kobe Bryant’s untimely death has heightened demand for his cards.

Because we value balance, the “Cons” column for this card include:

  • the lack of any autographs
  • a fairly sizable print run (the largest print run of all the 2008-09 Topps Chrome basketball colored parallels)

It’s obvious, though, that the positive features of this car far outweigh its shortcomings. A limited print run featuring two legends as part of an extinct basketball card set? What more do you need to know?

 

Similar Cards To Consider

Consider cards that are similar to this one:

Important Cards Released in 2008:

  • 2008 Tom Brady Topps Chrome Gold Refractor#TC3 (/199)
  • 2008 Michael Jordan SP Authentic Rookie Threads #AU-MJ

Similar Topps Basketball Cards Releases:

  • 2007-08 Kevin Durant Topps Chrome Orange Refractor RC #131
  • 2008 Russell Westbrook Topps Chrome RC Red Refractor#184 (/5)
He is a freelance journalist with experience as a sports card market analyst and researcher in the fields of disruptive technology, law, and sports retail. He is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious.

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