|Wednesday, April 16
Lakers' popularity hasn't waned this season
By Darren Rovell
The Los Angeles Lakers may be seeded fifth in the Western Conference playoff race, but the team finished the regular season atop the league's merchandise rankings.
The Dallas Mavericks made their second straight appearance on the top10 list, due in part to the popularity of Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley, who finished ninth and tenth, respectively, in individual player sales.
Vince Carter was in the top 10 best-selling jerseys last year but dropped to No. 20 this season. Likewise, Darius Miles was in the top 10 as a Los Angeles Clipper a year ago, but failed to make the top 20 in his first season as a Cleveland Cavalier.
At the beginning of the season, the NBA predicted gross licensed merchandise revenues to rise more than $300 million, from $1.8 billion to $2.1 billion, but league executives are now expecting sales to surpass those projections. Although retro jersey sales have helped make a difference this season, Bourne said those numbers were not included in the team rankings because some teams have a greater offering than others.
NBA licensed sales are up 32 percent from last season at the NBA Store and NBA.com, Bourne said.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at email@example.com.