With the last games of the regular season Thursday night, the NBA released its traditional jersey sales rankings, based on sales at its online store and its temporary store in Manhattan. And while Chicago 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 past 12 years, Bryant has finished the regular season atop the NBA jersey rankings six times, including three out of the last five 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 five. The Heat's Dwyane Wade finished sixth, reigning league MVP Dirk Nowitzki finished seventh, 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 season. 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 ninth last year to 14th this year.
The most heavily sold team was the 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
• Slideshow: The NBA's best-selling jerseys
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