Knicks rookie Porzingis #4 in NBA jersey sales
The NBA released its latest updates on the most popular jersey and team merchandise with Golden State Warriors, and league most valuable player Stephen Curry in first.
Also involved is four-time MVP LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers in second and longtime NBA star from the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant, currently on his final season farewell tour, in third.
Surprisingly, though, slotted in the 4th position is rookie sensation from the New York Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis. Panned as the first-round draft pick by Knicks fans, Porzingis has excelled in his rookie season and is becoming a marketing force, with deals already in place for sports drink BodyArmor, Shipman Mattress and Delta Air Lines.
According to Yahoo Sports, Porzingis, from Latvia, was the only rookie in the top 15 for jersey sales and ranks ahead of other NBA stars including Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul and Knicks teammate, Carmelo Anthony.
Sam Gardner of FOX Sports noted that Porzingis’s rise echoes a similar phenomenon in the 2011-2012, where a then-little-known guard, Jeremy Lin, took the Big Apple by storm.
"It's just like the Jeremy Lin extravaganza," said Nicholas Chang, a manager at the Modell's Sporting Goods on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. "Everybody likes an underdog and everybody likes a surprise.".
"Originally we didn't have any (Porzingis jerseys), but once he started making headway we got some in, and now they fly off the shelves," said Hassan Williams, a manager at Champs Sports' Times Square store, just nine blocks from Madison Square Garden. "The last time this happened, I would say, was Linsanity.”