Kobe Bryant’s earliest known, game-worn L.A. Lakers jersey -- rocked by the Mamba during his '96 rookie season -- is about to hit the auction block ... and we’re told it could rake in over $500k!!
Bidding for the awesome piece of sports memorabilia opens Monday at Goldin Auctions ... and Ken Goldin tells TMZ Sports the ultra-special threads have a chance to break the record for most expensive regular season NBA jersey of all-time.
FYI, the current record belongs to Michael Jordan's Washington Wizards jersey from his last ever NBA game in 2003 ... which a collector dropped $570k on.
An 18-year-old Kobe -- fresh off being selected with the 13th overall pick in the NBA draft -- donned the gold Lakers jersey during his 23rd NBA game ever ... when Bryant and Shaq's squad took on the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 8, 1996 at The Forum.
Kobe wasn't (yet) a starter, but played 22 minutes ... and dropped 11 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds in the Lakers' 110-86 victory.
And, get this, Goldin Auctions officials say Bryant didn't only wear the jersey once ... they say it's been expertly photo matched to at least 4 games during his rookie campaign -- AND his rookie photo shoot before the season started.
If half a milli's a little too high a price to pay, Goldin says they have over 360 other pieces of Kobe memorabilia -- including a rare, mint-graded '97-'98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Kobe card -- that they expect to go for over $300k.
All the Kobe pieces close on May 23 ... happy bidding!!