It's a good bet that Kobe Bryant will not be earning a championship ring this season, but he's still a contender in one area jersey sales.
Jumping two spots from last year, Bryant's jerseys are the fifth most popular among those of all players in the National Basketball Association. Ahead of the 27-year-old Lakers shooting guard are Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephon Marbury of the New York Knicks.
One position below Bryant is former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, now with the Miami Heat. That is up from ninth in 2004 and seventh in 2003. Other than Bryant, no other Laker cracked the list of best-selling jerseys.
Bryant's jersey was also the fifth most popular when he was charged with sexual assault in 2003 by a then 19-year-woman who worked at a Colorado resort. The year before, his jersey was the third best-selling.
Overall sales of Lakers' jerseys have fallen to third, behind the Heat and Knicks a ranking that's perhaps reflective of the new, unheralded faces on the L.A. team. Lakers' merchandise had topped the list for the previous three years.
The Lakers' failed to make the playoffs last year for the first time in 11 years and only the fifth time in the team's history. Still, Lakers merchandise consistently sold better than most other teams in the league.
The jersey rankings come from sales from the NBA store in Manhattan and on NBA.com at the start of the pre-season three months ago.
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