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How a Game-Worn Jersey from Kobe Bryant's Rookie Season Sold for Nearly $3 Million was Authenticated

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

When it comes to sports memorabilia capable of earning top dollar from collectors, jerseys are near the top of the list. In fact, the right jersey can net upwards of $1 million. Take the situation that recently unfolded with a jersey that Kobe Bryant wore during his rookie season in 1996-97.

That Los Angeles Lakers jersey was recently sold for $2.73 million. Most collectors would likely be happy to make a few hundred bucks from such a transaction. Regardless, this particular jersey sold for as much as it did for a few reasons. Continue reading below to find out more about the authentication process of this big money jersey sale.

How the Jersey Was Authenticated

Considering how much the collector spent on the game-worn Kobe Bryant jersey, authenticating it was a crucial step in completing the transaction. This jersey authentication process consisted of photo-matching, according to David Kohler of SCP Auctions. The photo-matching process was conducted by independent authenticators. The process of photo-matching sports jerseys consists of ensuring that no two game-worn items are identical.

This process is conducted by using photographs from Getty Images to compare the physical markings on jerseys and uniforms to how they originally looked. All of the unique details about a jersey, after it's been worn in a game, are highlighted and compared to how the jersey originally looked. Photo-matching is one of the most common methods of jersey authentication available, but there are a variety of more efficient and accurate ways to authenticate game-worn jerseys. For instance, Sportafi is a blockchain-powered exchange for sports memorabilia transactions that uses a unique identifier to authenticate items.

Jersey Was Authenticated

Why Photo-Matching is Not an Efficient Way of Authenticating Sports Memorabilia

Authentication is one of the most important aspects of purchasing a valuable collectible. Even though photo-matching is a common method of authenticating sports memorabilia, it’s not very reliable. Photo-matching is unreliable because authenticators may not have access to the correct, original image of the item they’re seeking to authenticate. Situations where authenticators are unable to match memorabilia with the correct pre-game image can lead to a variety of complications.

One example of this happening is when a New York Giants helmet worn by Eli Manning during Super Bowl XLII was purchased by a collector and subsequently sold to a buyer named Eric Inselberg. Soon after purchasing the helmet, he caught wind of an announcement that Manning’s game-worn helmet from Super Bowl XLII would be featured in the Sports Museum of America in New York City before being displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Inselberg said photo-matching proved that he had the real version of the helmet, while a fake was sent to the museums. This resulted in a lengthy, complicated lawsuit, including allegations from Inselberg’s lawyers about Giants players who have had their authentic memorabilia items stolen in exchange for fakes. The lawsuit was settled with the Giants paying Inselberg an unspecified amount and with the New York Giants calling the process of photo-matching to assess authenticity "faulty".

The Role of Sportafi in Authenticating Sports Memorabilia and Facilitating Transactions

Considering that commonly-used methods of authentication like photo-matching can be unreliable, collectors benefit from leveraging modern technology to authenticate items. Sportafi uses blockchain technology to confirm the authenticity tag using unique identifiers like biometrics and RFIDs, registering it on a blockchain as a digital asset.

This process pairs a digital asset with a physical item, adding a new level of security and transparency to the process of sports memorabilia sales and authentication. More ways Sportafi revolutionizes the process of authenticating, buying, and selling sports memorabilia include:

  • Providing collectors with an immutable record of changes that are made to a sports memorabilia item bought or sold on Sportafi.

  • Using the Sportafi kiosks/nodes to create an immutable record of the time, date, and place when a sports memorabilia item is initially registered on the blockchain.

  • Recording the biometrics of the owner of a collectible and the player connected to it.

  • Providing sports memorabilia collectors with a digital asset that pairs the physical item with a unique token stored on a blockchain and in the owner's digital wallet.


Additionally, Sportafi provides a percentage of the profits from sales to the respective leagues, players, and manufacturers of the memorabilia involved. Ultimately, there are a variety of reasons why Sportafi is the only blockchain-backed solution for introducing truth into sports memorabilia transactions. To find out more about why Sportafi is the sports memorabilia authentication solution collectors have been waiting for, get in touch with us today!

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