Basketball merchandise, especially from the National Basketball Association is big business on a worldwide scale.
The popularity of NBA merchandise in Europe in Asia is much more than most North Americans likely realize, with the NBA official site now offering the convenience of online shopping in many locations fans across the pond aren’t restricted to smaller selections of inventory (if any at all). About five years ago I checked out a local sports shop in Florence, Italy – floor one: soccer (of course), floor two: all NBA basketball – no NFL football, no baseball, and no hockey. Naturally there was a heavy focus on Italian and other European born NBA players. You could’ve given me the best basketball odds and I’d never have taken that bet. I was stunned.
Having said that, here’s the most popular player jersey sales through NBAStore.com as of the midway point of 2017:
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Well here’s a surprise, the two-time National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player who led his team to their second NBA title in three seasons is the most popular player in the league. Curry, who unfortunately just suffered an injury that will see him miss some significant time, is in his ninth season in the NBA and has won two MVPs, two NBA titles, played in four NBA All-Star Games, and has led the league in three-point scoring for the past *five* consecutive seasons! All since entering the league for the 2009-2010 season. Incredible.
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
You were expecting someone else? The four-time NBA MVP, three-time champion, and thirteen time NBA All-Star is coming off an appearance in the 2017 NBA Final which was his (is this really correct?) seventh consecutive trip to the Final round split between two teams. You talk about a player that makes an impact, when James left the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 the Cavs went from finishing dead last in the NBA in 2014 to playing in the NBA Final in 2015. Much like the 2015 and 2017 seasons, James finishes only behind Stephen Curry, ending up here in second place throughout the NBA.
3. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
The four-time scoring champion left the Oklahoma City Thunder following the 2016 season after spending his entire NBA career with the Seattle/Oklahoma City franchise. While in OKC Durant won the NBA MVP award in 2014 and played in seven NBA All-Star Games. His first season in Golden State with the Warriors went about as well as he could’ve hoped, Durant won his first career NBA Championship while claiming NBA Finals MVP honours in the process. Durant comes in third overall on the player jersey sales rankings.
4. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Speaking of the Thunder, Kevin Durant’s former teammate Russell Westbrook finishes one spot behind KD for fourth place despite winning the NBA MVP award during the 2017 regular season. Westbrook is a two-time scoring champion and has played in six NBA All-Star Games during his eight-plus seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
5. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
Probably the biggest trade heading into the 2017-18 NBA season was the swap between the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers of Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas-plus. Irving spent six seasons in Cleveland where he made the NBA All-Star team four times winning the game’s MVP award in 2014. Irving was an important contributor alongside James et al for the Cavs run to their only NBA Championship in 2016. He requested a trade during the off-season, ending up in Boston where he ranks fifth in NBA jersey sales.
Rounding out the rest of the top ten
6. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
7. Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers
8. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
9. James Harden, Houston Rockets
10. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors