No Break for Kobe
With the continuously improving Andrew Bynum in the line-up, Kobe Bryant seemed to be on the verge of finally having a chance to take a little breather from carrying the Lakers on his shoulders. Kobe averaged 26.5 ppg & 6.0 rpg in Nov, 26.6 ppg & 6.3 rpg in Dec, and 24.4 ppg & 4.6 rpg in Jan (through 1/13). Since Bynum went down on 1/13, Kobe has kicked his production into overdrive, averaging 34.3 ppg & 7.6 rpg. Unfortunately, the one-man-show doesn't work for the Lakers (they're 4-5 since 1/13), and none of the other players seem to be stepping up.
Kobe's 96-97 Topps Chrome RC averaged $128.05 in Jan, up from $109.46 in Dec. His Finest Bronze RC averaged $17.03 in Jan, slightly up from $16.59 in Dec. His Topps Draft Picks insert experienced a pretty decent lift to $67.14 in Jan, up from $54.42 in Dec.
I guess the Lakers ownership also recognized the lack of support after Bynum went down, so they decided drop some of their excess (I was sad to see Crittenton go) and pick up Memphis' star-center Pau Gasol this past week. I think it was a good move to acquire Gasol, who can slide over to PF when Bynum returns, giving the Lakers a very formidable duo to contend with.
Kobe's values have been pretty depressed for a while, despite his awesome play. There are quite a few deals to be found on auction for his key base rookie cards. One of his most collectible, and hardest to find, rookie-year cards is his 96 SB Auto, which may be the only card out there with his full sig. This card, along with his Topps Chrome Ref & Finest Ref, seem to maintain the highest level of hobby stature out of all of his rookie-year issues.