With the last game of the regular season tonight, the NBA released its traditional jersey sales rankings on Thursday morning, based on sales at its online store and its temporary store in Manhattan. And while Bulls guard Derrick Rose takes the No. 1 spot for the first time in his career, the bigger story is former undrafted D-Leaguer Jeremy Lin cracking the list at No. 2, beating out the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and his teammate, Carmelo Anthony.
That's taking into account the fact that Lin jerseys didn't even hit the market until mid-February and the sales ranking started in April 2011. But when Lin did start lighting it up for the New York Knicks, boy did the masses buy his gear. Not only did New Yorkers embrace "Linsanity" but people around the world inspired by the Harvard graduate's rise to fame also bought his jersey. And one can't discount his Asian heritage helping things along, driving international sales to NBAStore.com and other retailers.
How big of an upset is it to beat out Bryant, who came in No. 3 this year? In the last 12 years, Bryant has finished the regular season atop the NBA jersey rankings six times, including 3 out of the last 5 years coming into this year. When Anthony returned to the lineup, Linsanity started to wane and soon a season-ending knee surgery had some stores discounting his gear by as much as 90 percent.
Following Rose, Lin and Kobe, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony rounded out the top 5. The Heat's Dwyane Wade finished 6th, reigning league MVP Dirk Nowitzki finished 7th, while Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Rajon Rondo rounded out the top 10.
While a star player on a new team often leads to that player rising on the jersey sale list, only Lin and Chris Paul, who finished No. 15, played on new teams this year. Dwight Howard hurt by being undecided about his destination, and the fan's fear of investing in a jersey that would soon become obsolete, led to him slipping on the list from 9th last year to 14th this year.
The most heavily sold team was the Chicago Bulls, followed by the Knicks, Lakers, Heat, Mavericks and Celtics.
Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:
- 1. Derrick Rose, Bulls
- 2. Jeremy Lin, Knicks
- 3. Kobe Bryant, Lakers
- 4. LeBron James, Heat
- 5. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
- 6. Dwyane Wade, Heat
- 7. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
- 8. Kevin Durant, Thunder
- 9. Blake Griffin, Clippers
- 10. Rajon Rondo, Celtics
- 11. Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks
- 12. Ray Allen, Celtics
- 13. Paul Pierce, Celtics
- 14. Dwight Howard, Magic
- 15. Chris Paul, Clippers