Kobe, Lakers Ruin Shaq's Phoenix Debut
With great delight, I had the pleasure of watching the 2nd half of the Lakers-Suns game tonight. With so much hype about Shaq's debut with the Suns (and of course because they were playing the Lakers), the game definitely lived up to expectations. I especially enjoyed when Kobe rejected Shaq, except for the mistaken goal-tending call that resulted. The Lakers are the real deal. When Andrew Bynum returns, they'll have the two 7-footers at the 4 & 5 positions, 6-10 Lamar Odom at the 3, and Kobe & Derek Fisher playing the 1 & 2 positions, respectively. I don't think there's another starting line-up in the league that can match up with them. And with their bench greatly improving, I think that hands down they'll be the team to beat when the playoffs come around.
Kobe has shown us time & time again that he is still the best player in the NBA. When he shoots, it's almost a shock when it doesn't go in (seems like his teammates are surprised too since half of them are already heading down court when the balls released!). I'm glad that Kobe didn't come into the league when most players had way too many rookie-year autos, but if he had one or two it would be nice. You can expect to pay around $145-155 TAC for his 96-97 Topps Chrome RC, and around $20-25 for his 96-97 Finest RC (his top two base rookie cards). As for his 96-97 Topps Draft Redemption insert, people have been dishing out around $65 in the past week.
Odom is finally starting to live up to previous expectations. His card values, much like his play, have remained underwhelming for years. He has 7 double-doubles in his last 10 games, helping the Lakers to a 9-1 record during that time. His 99-00 Skybox Autographics Auto has been selling in the $13-19 TAC range this month, up from around $11 a couple of months ago. He doesn't have any base auto rookies, so inserts will have to do. The most limited is his 99-00 E-X E-Xplosive Auto #'d 99, which is pretty hard to find, but was selling the $30's range back in December.
I was reading an article in the March 2008 Beckett (pgs 6-9) about Kobe signing Upper Deck products and noticed that he's signing his full name again. Wonder what impact that's gonna have on his previous autos? It went from "Kobe Bryant" to "Kobe 8" to "Kobe", and now back to "Kobe Bryant". Maybe the "Kobe 8" will emerge as the most valuable one, especially since the bulk of his early autos have this sig, and he no longer wears number 8. Hard to tell how the market will react.