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Wednesday, April 16
 
Lakers' popularity hasn't waned this season

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

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.

NBA merchandising sales
Top-selling teams
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. New York Knicks
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Boston Celtics
5. New Jersey Nets
6. Washington Wizards
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Sacramento Kings
9. Orlando Magic
10. Dallas Mavericks
Top-10 jersey sales
1. Kobe Bryant
2. Allen Iverson
3. Tracy McGrady
4. Michael Jordan
5. Paul Pierce
6. Jason Kidd
7. Shaquille O'Neal
8. Latrell Sprewell
9. Dirk Nowitzki
10. Michael Finley
Source: NBA
Thanks to the popularity of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal jerseys, the purple and gold outsold all other teams on NBA.com and at the NBA Store in Manhattan this season, according to NBA spokesman Matt Bourne.

Due in part to the location of the NBA Store in Manhattan, the New York Knicks finished second. The Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and New Jersey Nets round out the top five.

Bryant had the most popular jersey, followed by Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Michael Jordan and Paul Pierce.

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.

Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets center and top Rookie of the Year candidate, had the 17th most popular jersey, based on online and NBA store 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 darren.rovell@espn3.com.






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