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It’s the ultimate National Basketball Association popularity contest: The annual list of the league’s best selling jerseys. Fans put down their hard-earned cash to support the players they love the most. While some players remain consistently popular, there are always surprises cracking the top 10 that depend largely on player performance and public perception.
The NBA’s top selling jerseys list is based on sales on NBAStore.com since the start of the 2011-12 basketball season and is the official list released by the league.
So, which players wear the best selling NBA jerseys? Read ahead to find out!
By Paul Toscano and Brian Beers
Updated 25 July 2012
With the 10th best selling NBA jersey, the Boston Celtics’ #9 is one of the fastest-rising young guards in the league. At the age of 26, three-time All-Star Rajon Rondo led the league in assists over this past season and has endorsed brands including Red Bull, Nike, iRenew, and 2K Sports.
The centerpiece to the Los Angeles Clippers’ revival and league leader in dunks, Blake Griffin is the “Human Highlight Film 2.0.” A former No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft out of Oklahoma, Griffin was featured on the cover of the EA Sports videogame “NCAA Basketball 10.” A hot commodity in the advertising world, you may have seen Blake in spots for brands such as Kia, Subway, Vizio, and AT&T.
Kevin Durant (aka KD35) is one of the league’s premier scorers. He has averaged more than 26 points per game during his five year career. Durant originally was drafted by the Seattle Sonics back in 2007. Following that season the team relocated to Oklahoma and changed its name to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ever since, Durant has helped make that city become relevant to basketball. Some of Durant’s more noteworthy off-the-court business partnerships have included Skull Candy, Nike, Gatorade, and Degree.
Dirk Nowitzki is the highest-ranked European-born player on the list and has been the franchise player for the Dallas Mavericks since the 2005-2006 season. Last season, he led the Mavericks to its first championship, beating out the Miami Heat in six games and winning the finals Most Valuable Player award in the process. During the series, he had more fourth-quarter points than Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined, fighting through both injury and illness during the series and quickly becoming a fan favorite. Although Nowitzki is certainly a marketable player,he notably does not seek endorsement deals.
One of the most well-known players in the league, Dwyane Wade has been an All-Star since his first year in the NBA. Leading the league in scoring during the 2008-2009 season, Wade was so popular in Miami that in 2010 the Miami-Dade County commissioners voted unanimously to rename the county “Miami-Wade County”for one week starting on July 1 in an effort to persuade him to stay with the team during his bid for free agency. Wade has expanded his public image through endorsement deals with companies including Converse, Gatorade, Staples, and T-Mobile.
Carmelo Anthony joined the New York Knickerbockers right before the trade deadline in 2011, changing his number from 15 to 7 in the process. The All-Star small forward has always been popular among fans, but his move to New York certainly helped his case. While playing for the Knicks the team has reached the playoffs both years. He averaged 26.3 points in 2010-2011, and 22.6 points in 2011-2012.
For the 2010-11 season, LeBron James saw his jersey snapped up by fans more often than any other player in the league. After deciding to relocate from Cleveland to Miami and changing his number from 23 to 6, King James’ jersey was a hot item, according to NBAStore.com. Although jersey sales for LeBron aren’t the most popular in the league this year, his jersey sales have been in the top 10 since his rookie season. James holds endorsements with Nike, Sprite, McDonald’s, State Farm, and Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet.
Since entering the league in 1996, Kobe Bryant has been one of the NBA’s premier players and continues to be a favorite among fans. Although he is paid more than anyone in the league and is continually argued to be the best player in the league, his jersey sales haven’t been at the top of the list for the past two years. For the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, Bryant claimed the top spot in jersey sales, but has dropped in the rankings recently, falling to second last season and third this season. Bryant’s biggest endorsements include deals with Nike and Coca-Cola.
During the 2011-12 season, there was perhaps no better story in basketball than the “Linsanity” that erupted when the Jeremy Lin, a then-bench player for the New York Knicks, was promoted to the starting lineup to lead a winning streak that brought the team to the playoffs. Lin’s unexpected ascent took many by surprise, heightening demand for everything with his name on it,including jerseys. Going from basically zero in sales, New York locations including Modell’s stocked up on Lin jerseysto take advantage of the surge in demand. With one fan even paying $42,000to spend five minutes with Lin, it’s certainly no surprise that his jersey was near the top of the charts.
However, in the offseason Lin made a move to the Houston Rockets, a smaller market team that may drop Lin's ranking among the best-selling NBA jerseys next season. Although some analysts think the move will help Lin reach his potential,it remains to be seen how the move will affect Lin's jersey sales going forward.
Chicago Bulls point guard and the 2011 league MVP Derrick Rose is the most popular jersey among fans this year. At 22, he was the youngest MVP in league history and the only member of the Chicago Bulls to win the honors — aside from the legendary Michael Jordan. Rose, who is a Chicago native, signed a five-year, $94.8 million contract extension with the team in December, locking in his superstar status and becoming one of the league’s highest-paid players.
Rose’s marketability not only resulted in him grabbing the No. 1 spot for jersey sales, but also brought in a monstrous 14-year, $260 million contract with Adidas this past February, which was first reported by CSNChicago.