Second Year Standouts: 1997/98 Topps Chrome Refractors Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant’s amazing 1996/97 Topps Chrome Refractor rookie card has long been on my Want List.  As Kobe’s best rookie, this rectangular piece of awesomeness will not come cheap – especially a high grade version (BGS 9.5 or PSA 10).  In fact, I’m not sure I’ll ever be in position to add such a masterpiece to my collection.  I may end up going after Kobe’s base 1996/97 Topps Chrome card instead.

KB Back
1997/98 Topps Chrome Refractors Kobe Bryant (Back)
KB Front
1997/98 Topps Chrome Refractors Kobe Bryant (Front)

Another option would be to pursue today’s Second Year Standout, Kobe’s 1997/98 Topps Chrome Refractor.  This card is obtainable at a fraction of the cost of Kobe’s aforementioned rookie refractor, and is a wonderful collectible in its own right.  Whereas 1996/97 Topps Chrome features The Black Mamba driving through the lane, 1997/98 Topps Chrome captures young Kobe flying through the air on his way to a spectacular dunk.  The card back is also nice: Kobe looks to be all business in the photo, giving collectors a different impression of the up-and-coming superstar.  Furthermore, biographical data, statistical data, and a couple of anecdotes from Kobe’s rookie season are all provided.  In other words, all components necessary for a great base card (or in this case, a base card parallel) are included.

I believe that 1997/98 was the best year ever for basketball cards.  But when defending this position, I typically think first in terms of rare and/or low–numbered inserts that have wild and flashy designs.  Today’s Second Year Standout of Kobe Bryant is not serial numbered, nor is it flashy.  And as such, it reminds us that greatness comes in a variety of forms.  Indeed, sometimes less is more.

Word of the Day

obsequious – marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness; she’s constantly followed by obsequious assistants who will do anything she tells them to


  1. I’d be curious to learn more detail of why you consider 97-98 the best. I consider 1996-97 the best myself, due to the card designs mostly, but also the 50th anniversary celebration. 96-97 Ultra is my all-time favorite NBA set, and Stadium Club and the Upper Deck flagship are my favorite years for both of those long running sets as well.

    Nice Kobe. I’ve never seen a bad Refractor. I got lucky, I pulled the Tim Duncan when the set was new.


  2. Thanks for your comment. Both 96-97 and 97-98 are awesome years for basketball cards. Why I favor 97-98 would make a great blog article. Be on the lookout for that. Pulling the Tim Duncan straight from a pack must have been a thrill. I hope you’ve kept the card in good condition all of these years (assuming that you still have it).


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