March 27, 2022

The Kobe Auto

The Kobe Auto

As promised from the instagram post, once again here is the story (for the last time, I promise) of the Kobe autograph. 


May 1997 the Utah Jazz were taking on the LA Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs.  As a 13 year old kid there was nothing better than my favorite NBA team being a favorite to win the west; pair that with autograph hunting of Shaq and the Lakers and my life was golden. 


The Little America Hotel was THE premier hot spot for NBA visiting teams to stay, and a prime spot for autograph seekers like myself.  Through what I remember to be persistent phone calls to the hotel placed by my mother we were able to determine when the LA Lakers would be making their arrival to the hotel.  Thanks mom :) . 


The typical autograph hunting team consistent of me, my buddy Adam (@thereal27guy), and my little sister Brandy.  We grabbed our magazines, jerseys, cards, sharpies, and headed to the hotel.  

Sure enough, we timed the arrival of the Lakers just right and had found ourselves situated perfectly by the front door of their team bus when they arrived.  Coming off the bus we captured one photo (I'm in the red shirt with black hat, my sis is just behind me) that I've shown a few times before, but it just never gets old.  Eddie Jones giving us pure gold: 

Memory serves me that my mom took the Eddie Jones photo (she knows how to point and click a camera), she would later let us stay at the hotel to autograph hunt while she ran errands. 


Later that day, while waiting in the hotel lobby for a player to majestically appear from the hotel elevator bank, we spotted a young rookie named Kobe Bryant.  Being the young autograph hunter I was, I made sure to be fully prepared and carried a 1996 Upper Deck Rookie Card of Mr. Bryant with me.  Adam and I (and I believe my sister) approached Kobe who was gracious enough to sign my card and Adam's book, not only that but he agreed to take a photo with us as well.  Jackpot!  As my mom was not in the hotel, we asked a hotel guest to take our photo; he grabbed our camera and said he took the photo but no flash had gone off.  At that time we didn't think much of it, thanked Kobe, and proceed to celebrate our latest acquisition.  Little did we know, Joe Shmoe from the lobby had never learned how to appropriate take a photo and forgot to press the button down completely.  No picture was taken. 


I did happen to grab a photo of Kobe as he was walking away (because I KNOW HOW TO PRESS THE DAMN BUTTON ON A CAMERA), so we have a little proof to validate our story: 


Kobe of course went on to be one of the top players in NBA history, and I of course never relinquished one of my prized childhood autograph possessions.   


Getting back into the card world several years ago I decided it was time to have the leading card grading company authenticate my Kobe Bryant, to protect this card for all of time.  This was going to be an easy process in my mind, I of course knew the card was real.  Well, that didn't quite go according to plan.  If you haven't already done so go check out episode 34: Questionable Authentic (45 minute mark), to see how that turned out. 


Alas, I am stubborn and love throwing away money (as my dear friend Ricky loves to remind me), so it was time for round 2 at authentication.  I had a secret weapon this time around (check out our Youtube video title Kobe Bryant goes for Authentication).  This time they got it right: 


According to PSA's database there are approximate 70 authenticated autographs by Kobe Bryant on 1996 rookie cards (excluding Press Pass and Scoreboard), 3 of the 1996 Upper Deck, and none graded higher. The inscribed 8 by Kobe matches the auto grade perfectly.  Maybe next time PSA will get it right and grade the card an 8 as well :). 



We also acquired this photo:

but that's a story for another episode.