Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Kobe Bryant Is Back

The NBA just released its jersey sales rankings and Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey is No. 1. Bryant was last on the top of the list in April 2003, a couple months before he was charged with sexual assault. He finished the 2004-05 season ranked fifth in jersey sales and moved up one position to the fourth spot last season.

Although Bryant hasn’t garnered any huge blue chip endorsements (being on the cover of the video game NBA ’07 doesn’t really count) after being dumped by Nutella and having his contracts expire with Spalding, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, having the No. 1 jersey proves that Bryant is top of mind again.

One of the reasons why Bryant was able to get to this position, ahead of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and the new Allen Iverson Denver Nuggets jersey is because he changed his number before this season from No. 8 to No. 24.

He said it was to signify the start of the second point of his career, but sources always told me it was to prevent Adidas - which had a previous deal with him - from making retro No. 8 shoes without him getting a piece. Funny thing is, adidas now makes the NBA jerseys, so his success is also their success now.

So for all those people who doubted that Kobe would ever be in this position again - including me, I must say - this is a big day.

Here’s the list that is arrived at by taking the sales at and at the NBA Store in Manhattan.

Questions?  Comments?