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CAMDEN, N.J. — Kobe Bryant and an auction house that wants to sell memorabilia from his high school days and early pro career are heading for a trial next month, unless they can work out a deal before then.
U.S. District Judge Renee Bumb on Monday set June 17 as a trial date, but also set a court-guided mediation session for Friday in a case that’s the manifestation of an ugly family dispute that all sides seem to want to resolve quickly.
“Maybe I should have had you bring your witnesses today and we would have tried the case,” Bumb said at a hearing. “You’re all so ready to go.”
The main reason she didn’t schedule the trial for an earlier date was that Bryant’s father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, said he could not get to a trial sooner because he’s coaching a Thai team in the Asian Basketball League playoffs.
The animosity became public earlier this month, shortly after Berlin, N.J.-based Goldin Auctions announced its plan to auction off Bryant’s mementos, which date to his days at Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia. Goldin’s April 30 announcement promised a June sale of the 100 items of a collection provided by Bryant’s mother, Pamela Bryant.
The collection includes high school uniforms, signed basketballs, trophies and other items. Goldin gave Pamela Bryant a $450,000 advance, which she used to buy a home earlier this year in Las Vegas.
The same day the firm announced the auction, the NBA star’s lawyers sent Goldin a letter asking it not to hold the sale, arguing that the collection belonged to Kobe Bryant, not to his mother.
Since then, the auction house filed a lawsuit in New Jersey seeking the right to sell the materials.
Kobe Bryant has sued in California, saying that some of the items — a surfboard from the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards and a trophy — were last seen in his home there.
Several family members have submitted statements taking sides.
Joe Bryant, a former NBA player himself, and Kobe Bryant’s grandmother are siding with Pamela Bryant, saying that Kobe told his mother she could have the items.
Bryant’s sister, Sharia Washington, gave lawyers a statement supporting her brother.
In an affidavit filed in a California court over the weekend, Washington said that her mother was always talking about cashing in on his memorabilia.
At an Olympic prep game versus the Dominican Republic last July in Las Vegas, Washington said that her mother was fixated on the Kobe Bryant shirt Washington’s son was wearing.
“My mother commented at that time that I should have Kobe sign my son’s personal T-shirt so that I could sell it,” Washington said in the affidavit.
The court filings also dredge up old troubles, including Pamela and Joe Bryant saying Kobe made them move out of his California home after he met the woman who would become his wife. Washington brought up other times when she said her mother wanted to make money off Kobe Bryant’s name.
Though a trial date was set, there are several legal questions.
Bryant’s lawyer, Christian Carbone, said he may continue to argue that the case should be dealt with in California, though Judge Bumb said there is no reason not to handle it in New Jersey.
Bumb said it is likely that the lawsuit Bryant filed against Goldin Auctions in California will get consolidated into the case that Goldin Auctions filed against him in New Jersey.
Also, Bumb said the case could be decided by a jury if either side demanded it. So far, though, neither side has done so.
A California judge last week ordered that Goldin not sell any of the items yet. Goldin’s lawyer, Jeffrey Cohen, said in court Tuesday that the auction house would voluntarily extend that ban on sales until after the matter is resolved.
Two items — 2000 NBA championship rings made for Pamela and Joe Bryant — are exempt from that order.
ican sports for the second straight year.
The boxer is projected to make $90 million in 2013, according to Sports
Illustrated’s annual list released Wednesday. Miami Heat star LeBron
James is a distant second at $56.5 million.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees vaults into the rankings at
No. 3 at $47.8 million thanks to a new contract signed before last season.
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is fourth at just under $47 million.
Tiger Woods is fifth with $40.8 million, his lowest spot since SI started the
list in 2004. He was No. 1 through 2011.
Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose checked in at No. 7, although he hasn’t
played a game since tearing his left ACL on April 28, 2012.
The top 50 include 25 baseball players, 13 basketball players and eight
football players, with no female athletes for the fifth consecutive year.
The estimates combine salary, winnings and endorsements.
Top 10 Earning Athletes
Name Sport Total Salary/Winnings Endorsements 2012 Ranking
1. Floyd Mayweather Boxing – $90,000,000 $90,000,000 $0 1
2. LeBron James NBA – $56,545,000 $17,545,000 $39,000,000 5
3. Drew Brees NFL – $47,800,000 $40,000,000 $7,800,000 NR
4. Kobe Bryant NBA – $46,850,000 $27,850,000 $19,000,000 4
5. Tiger Woods Golf – $40,839,027 $7,839,027 $33,000,000 3
6. Phil Mickelson Golf – $39,528,630 $3,528,630 $36,000,000 2
7. Derrick Rose NBA – $33,403,000 $16,403,000 $17,000,000 19
8. Peyton Manning NFL – $31,000,000 $18,000,000 $13,000,000 7
9. Alex Rodriguez MLB – $29,900,000 $29,000,000 $900,000 6
10. Zack Greinke MLB – $29,020,000 $29,000,000 $20,000 NR
A judge just gave Kobe Bryant a reprieve from his mother’s attempt to sell
his memorabilia … by shutting down the sale … at least for now. A judge
issued a temporary restraining order against Goldin Auctions, prohibiting
them from selling Kobe’s jerseys, championship rings, trophies, and lots
of other stuff until a full hearing can be held next Monday.
Kobe’s mom claims her son gave her the stuff outright, but Kobe says his
mom is just bitter because he wouldn’t buy her an expensive house. He
also says she stole some of the stuff from his house.