Whether Kobe Bryant returns to the court Sunday or sometime thereafter, Laker ticket prices on the secondary market indicate that fans are anxiously awaiting their shooting guard’s comeback. Laker fans aren’t the only ones looking forward to Kobe’s return. The injury plagued Lakers roster is in need of any form of backcourt depth – Steve Nash (back nerve damage), Jordan Farmar (torn hamstring), and Steve Blake (hyper-extended elbow) are out – and D’Antoni says their 15-time All-Star may even play some time at the point. Despite all the missing pieces to LA’s lineup, the price of Los Angeles Lakers tickets for many December home games continue to rise. In a star driven league where the best players (like Bryant) drive a team’s attractiveness, their injuries and “returns” greatly affect demand for tickets even if other factors that typically drive demand up are non-existent (i.e. top product on the floor).
Following the Black Mamba’s season ending injury on April 12, potential NBA Playoffs tickets to the first round series and semifinals dropped 18% and 15% respectively at Staples Center. Wednesday evening, Bryant ruled himself out of Friday’s game on the road against Sacramento, but left the possibility open for Sunday’s home game against the Raptors. What Lakers’ fan wants to miss the highly anticipated return to the Staples Center? They’re taking their chances and grabbing their tickets because the possibility of Kobe Bryant playing for the first time since his Achilles injury is looking more and more likely. Ticket prices to the Lakers vs. Raptors game are up 22% since November 15, the day before Kobe practiced for the first time and participated in on-court drills with his teammates.
Even more probable, is Kobe Bryant’s return before Christmas. Lakers tickets to the highly anticipated Holiday event climbed 21% since mid-November as the all-time Christmas Day scorer should be playing. It would be the third Christmas Day matchup for Kobe against LeBron; the two most popular players in the World is exactly what the League and its fans want to see. It is essentially the entire appeal of the second most expensive game of the season.
At 9-9 on the season and 11th in the Western Conference, LA could use a boost. The coaches will likely limit the minutes on the hardwood for their prized “Laker 4 Life,” but just seeing the ball in his hands during a game has fans eager with anticipation.