Bryant passes Wade for top-selling jersey at NBA stores

Kobe Bryant again has the most popular jersey at NBA stores.

Bryant changed from No. 8 to No. 24 this season, and the switch probably had a lot to do with his moving up from fourth to first in jersey sales at the NBA Store in New York and at the league's online market.

Bryant, who last topped the NBA's list during the 2002-03 season, passed the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade in jersey sales in NBA stores, but Neil Schwartz, who tracks sporting good sales for SportsOneSource, said Bryant's shirt is still anywhere from third to fifth in popularity nationwide.

The NBA's rankings are based on jersey sales at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in New York and at NBAStore.com from the start of the 2006-07 season through Dec. 31.

Schwartz said Bryant's jersey sales were hurt more by his feud with Shaquille O'Neal and the breakup of the championship Lakers than the scandal surrounding rape accusations in Colorado.

"I don't see this as a renaissance of his popularity," Schwartz said. "I see this as a great marketing ploy."

Wade, who had been on top since May 2005, fell to No. 2, one spot above LeBron James. Allen Iverson, helped by his trade to Denver, jumped from seventh to fourth, and Nuggets teammate Carmelo Anthony rounded out the top five.

Bryant helped the Lakers remain No. 1 in the team merchandise category for the fifth consecutive season. The NBA champion Heat moved up one spot to second.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.