I'll admit, I don't own any sports jerseys. I'm not a jersey-wearing guy, partially because the fit and feel of an authentic professional sports shirt are not optimal, but mostly because I'm over the age of 14.
Full disclosure, I don't buy many jerseys for my kids either, mostly because they're wildly overpriced. (The jerseys, not my kids. My kids are a solid value.) For many years, my sons would wear me down to a figurative nub until I finally caved, but lately I've been getting away with a "Why be a copy of [FILL IN NAME OF OVERPRICED ATHLETE HERE] when you can be the first Sammy Pendergast?!"
Nothing like appealing to some good ol' fashioned 11-year-old pride to avoid paying $149 for a stitched C.J. Spiller Bills jersey. Genius by me.
I disclose my jersey-buying habits so that it gives context to how incredulous I am over the information I am about to share. Perhaps my jersey-buying inexperience is why I am baffled over the following fact:
LeBron James's Miami Heat jersey is the top-selling jersey in the NBA.
You remember LeBron James, right? 6-foot-9 tour de force who was last seen simultaneously taking his talents to South Beach and plunging a Zydrunas Ilgauskas-sized knife into the back of Cleveland by announcing on national television his decision that
Cleveland sucks he would become a member of the Miami Heat.
I devoted roughly 30,000 words in like ten pieces in this space predicting what LeBron would do, analyzing his choice, and summarily skewering him for the execution of his plan.
Clearly, my words didn't resonate with the jersey-buying public (referred heretofore as the JBP).
The top 15 individual jerseys sold in the NBA this season are as follows:
1. LeBron James, Heat 2. Kobe Bryant, Lakers 3. Rajon Rondo, Celtics 4. Amare Stoudemire, Knicks 5. Derrick Rose, Bulls 6. Dwyane Wade, Heat 7. Kevin Durant, Thunder 8. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks 9. Dwight Howard, Magic 10. John Wall, Wizards 11. Blake Griffin, Clippers 12. Shaquille O'Neal, Celtics 13. Ray Allen, Celtics 14. Paul Pierce, Celtics 15. Kevin Garnett, Celtics
So if we are to assume that this list is in some way a barometer for who and what matters with the average NBA fan (and make no mistake, it is), then let's play some "Jersey Buying Forensics" and decipher exactly what this all means:
1. The JBP is ultra-quick to forgive....so much so that you wonder if they were ever really mad in the first place. LeBron has been number one in annual jersey sales before, but not since 2004. Not only did he reclaim the number one spot, he did so within nine months of becoming the "Most Vilified Athlete For Doing Something Perfectly Legal." Not only that, but interest as a whole in the NBA is up since LeBron took his talents down to the beach that is South. So maybe all of us wringing our hands over the downfall of mankind in the wake of The Decision are the stupid ones.
2. When the JBP forgives, it sticks. None of us were in that hotel room in Eagle, Colorado, back in 2003 with Kobe Bryant and that hotel worker, but the details in the police report don't paint a pretty picture. Sure, we were all mad at Kobe for a while, but we've either forgotten about it and now just hate him because he's a self-involved prick and has maybe the dumbest celebration scowl of all-time, or some of you have gotten back to celebrating him...by dressing like him. Either way, Eagle, Colorado, feels like it happened fifty years ago.
3. If the JBP sees you (on television, in the news), they will buy your jersey. Amare Stoudemire wasn't in the top 15 last year as a member of the Phoenix Suns. He debuted at number four this season as a New York Knick. Carmelo Anthony, also a Knick, is number eight. There are five Boston Celtics in the top 15. In fact, the only players in the top 15 that play in markets that I would classify as "disproportionately small for the amount of jerseys they sell" are Kevin Durant (number 7) and Dwight Howard (number 9), and they're two of the top five players in the league. Basically, if you're good, playing in a big market will ensure jersey sales a few notches ahead of where you likely rank in terms of actual talent/productivity (or in the case of Shaquille O'Neal, a hundred notches ahead).
4. Rajon Rondo's family is buying a shitload of jerseys, right? Further making my point from the previous bullet...no disrespect to Rondo, but if Kevin Durant is in Boston, he's number three on this list at worst. Put Rajon Rondo in Oklahoma City and...well, Rondo actually already is in Oklahoma City; his name there is Russell Westbrook.
5. Oh and Chris Paul....yeah, he fell out of the top 15. I'm guessing a nice shiny "3 PAUL" Knicks jersey would jump into Stoudemire territory. Bye, bye New Orleans.
6. The JBP REALLY, REALLY likes dunks. How else do you explain a Los Angeles Clipper at number 11?
7. Chris Bosh is DEFINITELY an overpaid lackey for LeBron and D-Wade. This is the one thing that maintains my faith in the world in which we live -- if LeDwyane Bosh were truly perceived as a "Big Three" in Miami, then Chris Bosh would have found his way into the top 15 jersey sellers by accident, likely in place of one of the four Celtics in spots 12 through 15. But thankfully, while the JBP seemingly ignored LeBron's made-for-TV self slurpfest last summer, they also ignored the fact that Chris Bosh is now a member of the Miami Heat.
And that alone is almost enough to vindicate anyone who spent a dime contributing to the stats compiled in this list.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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