“It’s rare that an athlete can move past the bounds of their sport, but Kobe Bryant is certainly one of the special few who has left an everlasting impact on the world. This jersey was worn by Kobe in one of the most iconic photos of him ever taken and has seeped its way into the global popular zeitgeist, becoming synonymous with Kobe’s ‘Mamba Mentality.’ Sports artifacts with this type of long-term, heavy wear are a rarity in the collecting space, with many modern items worn for just a single game. The fact that Kobe scored a total of 645 points over 8 months in this jersey, in his only MVP season, is simply stunning.”Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectables
NEW YORK, 12 January 2023 – On April 23, 2008 in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Denver Nuggets, Kobe Bryant sunk a three-pointer with just 5 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter, securing a 14 point lead (and the largest point differential thus far) for the Los Angeles Lakers. The images taken following the shot, showing Kobe screaming and grabbing his jersey in elation, have become some of the most iconic images of the athlete ever taken and commemorate one of the most memorable performances from his sole MVP season.
Kobe wore the same jersey, during the peak of his powers, for an astounding 25 games throughout an eight-month period. From Lakers Media Day on October 1, 2007 until the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals on May 29, 2008, he scored 645 points in this gold jersey over 6 playoff games, 14 regular season games and 5 pre-season games, and averaged 25.8 points per game.
This jersey has influenced popular culture in a way that is seldom seen in the sports community, becoming iconic and synonymous with the image of Kobe Bryant. The raw passion captured in the photos has inspired artists and designers all over the world; from the United States, to Canada, Italy, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, India, France, Spain, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Australia, this jersey has been featured in countless murals and artworks depicting the late basketball sensation. In California alone, there are more than 15 murals depicting him in this jersey, with wings, American flags, and snakes in the background.
Perhaps the most visited Kobe Bryant mural is the Los Angeles-based painting by artist Jonas Never, located near the former Staples Center. In that mural, Kobe dons this jersey – with countless fan signatures and well-wishes drawn upon the same wall. Additionally, when Kobe was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame selected this moment to put on the program and VIP Passes for the evening, featuring Kobe wearing this legendary jersey.
From tattoos inked onto fans’ arms, to paintings, tickets, newspapers and t-shirts (LeBron James was spotted wearing a t-shirt with this jersey on it going into Game 4 of the 2020 NBA Finals), the jersey has seeped its way into the global popular zeitgeist.
Kobe was also wearing the jersey the evening he was awarded the regular season’s Most Valuable Player Award on May 7, 2008, during Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, and again for his official MVP portrait. This is the only gold jersey Kobe wore in the 2008 NBA Playoffs where he led the Lakers to the NBA Finals for the first time since Shaquille O’Neal was traded.
Carrying an estimate of $5/7 million, the signed jersey will now be offered on the market in a dedicated online auction titled ZENITH | PART I open for bidding from 2 – 9 February. The auction is part of a two part series – paying homage to a variety of athletes whose careers have reached unparalleled success – with ZENITH | PART II featuring game-worn sports artifacts from stars such as Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer and more, open the same dates.
The jersey will be placed on public view in Sotheby’s New York galleries from 1 – 7 February.