CAMDEN, N.J. Kobe Bryant says in a court filing that he never gave his mother permission to sell mementos from his high school days and early professional basketball career.
Bryant is in a court battle over whether hundreds of items can be auctioned off.
Pamela Bryant says the NBA star told her the memorabilia was hers. She arranged earlier this year to auction it off through Berlin, N.J.-based Goldin Auctions and received a $450,000 advance.
Last week, lawyers for the NBA star wrote to the auction house demanding it cease the June sale. Goldin is suing to assert its right to sell.
In a filing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Camden, Kobe Bryant says his mother acknowledged to him recently that she did not have permission to sell the items.
The disagreement is a high-value, high-profile version of a question many families face: Can Mom get rid of the stuff a grown child left at home?
In this case, the 900 mementos happen to be worth upward of $1.5 million.
Among the first 100 or so items Pamela Bryant intends to sell: the NBA star's jerseys, practice gear and sweatsuits from Lower Merion High School; varsity letters; a trophy for being the outstanding player at the 1995 Adidas ABCD basketball camp; and a signed basketball from the 2000 NBA championship game.
And then there are rings, for the 1996 Pennsylvania high school championship, a pair that the Los Angeles Lakers made for Bryant's parents for the 2000 NBA championship and one from the 1998 NBA All-Star game.
According to court filings, Pamela Bryant struck a deal in January with Goldin Auctions in Berlin, N.J., which earlier this year sold a rare Honus Wagner baseball card for a record $2.1 million.
She intended to use the advance for a new home in Nevada.
In its court filings, Goldin says Pamela Bryant told the auction house that she asked her son five years ago what he wanted to do with the items that were in her home.
"Kobe Bryant indicated to Pamela Bryant that the items belonged to her and that he had no interest in them," the auction house's attorneys wrote. So she put them in a $1,500-per-month New Jersey storage unit.
The NBA's challenge came April 30 when Goldin sent a news release announcing the auction. By day's end, Kobe Bryant's lawyer had sent a cease-and-desist letter telling the auction house to call off the sale and return the items to him.
Kenneth Goldin, owner of the auction house, says he can't cancel the auction because he's already advanced $450,000 to Bryant's mother and put money into advertising the auction.
Kobe Bryant's lawyer Mark Campbell said in a statement, "Mr. Bryant's personal property has ended up in the possession of someone who does not lawfully own it. We look forward to resolving this legal matter through the legal system."
Bryant has had a sometimes icy relationship with his mother and father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, a former pro basketball player who is now coaching in Thailand.