Following his death, Kobe Bryant’s name and number are turning his trademark yellow Los Angeles Lakers basketball jerseys and other memorabilia into gold.
In Philadelphia, Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. at 1201 Chestnut St. still had a few Kobe Bryant basketball jerseys left, ranging from $260 to the regular retail price of $350.
And that’s a bargain.
“We’ve sold at least 200 jerseys since Sunday,” said Nibio Downer, general manager for the Mitchell & Ness flagship store in Center City. “People started coming in Sunday right after the news” broke of Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash and haven’t stopped.
“I haven’t seen this kind of fan base come in for another player; these folks grew up with him,” Downer said amid a steady stream of customers looking for sweatshirts, jerseys, and hats. Mitchell & Ness didn’t raise prices after Bryant’s unexpected death, he added.
Which of Bryant’s numbers was the more popular seller? “No. 8. By far,” Downer said. “That was his rookie year.”
Conshohocken-based e-commerce company Fanatics, which sells authorized merchandise for NBA teams, carried a few extra-extra-large No. 24 and No. 8 jerseys late Monday afternoon. As of Monday evening, the $300 Bryant No. 8 jersey was sold out.
However, on eBay and Amazon websites, plenty of Bryant memorabilia were available, at rising prices: One seller was advertising an allegedly authenticated No. 24 jersey for $8,000.
The bidding started Jan. 23 on eBay, days before Bryant’s death, at $99.99. By Monday evening, the price had rocketed to $7,900.
It’s still available. Of course, fakes are rampant online.
Another framed signed Los Angeles yellow jersey with the inscription that reads “5x champ” — the seller noted it’s “an authentic game jersey not a swingman or replica” — was being auctioned on eBay for $14,999.99, hologram included.
Team merchandise is not where Bryant made his big money; instead, he amassed a fortune from Nike sponsorship deals and his salary. Bryant retired in 2016 and moved on to making money in finance, cofounding the Bryant Stibel venture capital firm.