Professional basketball player Kobe Bryant speaks onstage at the Kobe Bryant's Muse panel during the SHOWTIME Network portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 18, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

By Alex Kennedy

One of the rarest Kobe Bryant cards in existence recently sold for $2 million, setting an all-time record for a Kobe card and placing it among the most-expensive basketball cards of all-time.

The card was a 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Emerald Kobe Bryant, and the deal was brokered by PWCC Marketplace. Why did this rare card command a record price?

The Emerald variations of the Precious Metal Gems issue are highly coveted, as there are only 10 of each issue in existence. While the Kobe card is numbered 004-of-100, there are only nine other Emerald versions (as the remaining 90 cards are the Red version and they aren’t worth as much).

The card also holds historic significance because it changed the way that manufacturers approached “insert” cards that offer alternatives to the base player cards that are commonly found in packs.

“This is arguably Kobe’s best card in existence,” said Jesse Craig, the Director of Business Development at PWCC. “It’s more desirable than even a Kobe Bryant rookie card or a Kobe Bryant autograph. The grade on this is also the highest that exists, with only one other BGS 8.5 in the world.

“These Precious Metal Gems variants are arguably the most desired insert card in the entire world. These set the tone for the insert market going forward. It’s just incredibly difficult to find them in any condition, and because of their delicate nature, to find one in such good condition is incredibly rare.”

Interestingly, in 2012, a Precious Metal Gems Emerald Kobe that was numbered 008-of-100 sold for $37,665 on eBay. This card likely wasn’t graded, but it’s crazy to see how much the price has increased over the last decade (especially considering cards where the serial number and jersey number match are typically worth more).

“This price is driven both by the quality of card and by the reverence for Kobe Bryant,” Craig added. “We’re now a few years removed from his tragic passing and people are starting to reflect on what he meant to the game and the culture of the sport.

“Simply put, he’s easily in the discussion for one of the greatest players of all-time and has a devoted following across the globe. His assets are likely to continue to see a rise in demand as people continue to seek a way to own a part of history and connect with one of the greatest players we’ve ever seen play the game.”

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