As the Cleveland Cavaliers continue racking up wins heading into the postseason, their superstar forward Lebron James continues putting up big numbers night after night, on and off the court. Yesterday the NBA released the list of the most popular and bestselling jerseys, along with the list of most popular and bestselling team merchandise, and Lebron and his Cavs rank numbers one and two respectively. For Lebron, this is nothing new – according to the release from NBA.com, “This marks the sixth consecutive time James has claimed the No. 1 position on the list and his third such honor as a member of the Cavaliers.”
James, who signed a 2-year deal with the Cavaliers last summer, is currently making $20.6 million for the season, and has a player option to return and collect the rest of the $42.1 million owed to him as part of the deal. According to a Forbes.com article published earlier this year, James is also the NBA’s most marketed athlete – pulling in an estimated $44 million from endorsements in addition to his ‘day job’. Well curated endorsement deals with companies like recent partner Kia , Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Samsung Electronics , Beats by Dre, Upper Deck, Tencent, and Audemars Piguet all contribute to the titanic sum that James brings in when he’s (often) not even wearing his bestselling jersey.
James who has become quite the savvy businessman (and famously surrounded himself with even savvier businessmen) since entering the NBA right out of high school in 2003, is certainly well aware of how much value something like having the bestselling jersey can mean even when that value isn’t readily apparent. In a league where all the players receive the same share of merchandising profits – regardless of their branding ability to generate those profits [because of the NBA Players Union] – Lebron isn’t going to see the money outright from the selling of his jersey or merchandise. However, that measured visibility makes one heck of a bargaining chip when endorsement negotiations begin. In this digital age where Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘followers’ have become proven identifiers of influence and reach, Lebron James’ jersey sales are another tangible way to verify that Lebron is STILL the king – but as we’ve noted before, his social media reach certainly isn’t lacking with a combined 41.7 million followers between Facebook and Twitter. Man it must feel good to be king.
Head over to NBA.com to see who else made the list.