After a rough start to his 20th season in the NBA, a 37-year-old Kobe Bryant confirmed in a Players Tribune essay published Sunday night that this year will be his last.
It’s probably not a surprise to most NBA fans given his injuries in recent years, but an end to a career doesn’t mean an end to cardboard, either. In fact, we’re probably just getting started with this Panini America spokesman.
One of Buzz’s favorite Kobe cards isn’t his super-pricey 1996-97 Topps Chrome Rookie Card — one Buzz once pulled and traded away for a 1983 Topps football wax box and some cash (that’s a story for a different day) — it’s this simple 2012-13 Panini Kobe Anthology card.
It’s card No. 2 in a 201-card set and one that can be had for pocket change in some areas. It’s among many Kobe cards Buzz has sitting in a box — not even sleeved or top-loaded — but it was the first card Buzz thought about.
Why? It’s one of very few cards to show Bryant as a member of the Charlotte Hornets — the team that originally drafted him before he requested a trade and went on to deliver as a phenom destined to be a legend. What’d the Hornets get for him? The esteemed Vlade Divac. (That’s it.)
Bryant has delivered since then, of course, with five NBA titles, a league MVP award, 17 All-Star nods and 32,670 points — good for third in NBA history. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone scored more.
Sure, we can all treasure our high-dollar Rookie Cards or autos — and we should. They are all reflections of one of the game’s best players — one that many fans obviously like.
But for Buzz, this one card — one looking back at a time we’ve barely ever seen on cardboard — is one that stands out from the rest.
Just like Kobe Bryant in the NBA today.
Update: The first piece of Kobe retirement memorabilia was released by the Lakers on Sunday night. Buzz expects these to be serious sellers on eBay.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 30, 2015
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