On the same day I learned of Kobe Bryant’s passing, I spotted a row of 2019-20 Donruss Basketball hanger packs dangling from a retail peg. The wrapper featured an image of Kobe over most of the front half. He’s in the purple road gear, presumably pushing the ball up court. Kobe has moved the collectibles needle for 20 years. The relationship between Kobe and Panini was an important one for both parties and for collectors, too. For Kobe, there was the obvious financial gain – business is business. But Bryant saw that it was more than that, and developed a…

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