Swaddled in particpatory goodness

Pardon me if this seems like a more relevant second take on yesterday’s effort for the good of mankind, but there are things in this game that simply must be discussed. Last week, the NBA released its list of the league’s best-selling jerseys. I got the scoop from Inside Hoops, and also received the slight revelation that the figures are based solely on business at the Association store on Fifth Avenue (“the world’s only”), from pre-season on. While this added information may explain some of the more eye-raising names on here, I certainly feel that time spent untangling the message is time well spent. This is, after all, the best data we have to gauge the all-important question of who in the league gets the most love, and why.

1. Wade: No-brainer. Player you have to jock, inspiration incarnate, statesman galore, had momentum from last season’s playoffs.

2. AI: The people’s champ, now and forever.

3. LeBron: Sometimes I think that people’s strong feelings for him are all professional, never personal enough to require a jersey purchase

4. Starbury: Remember, these figures are NYC only.

5. Kobe: Not bad for someone who’s been a walking PR disaster and on non-stop career suicide watch. Or maybe there’s just no denying the sickness.

6. Shaq: Everybody loves him, but surprised to see him this high. Professing your devotion to Shaq is like writing Abraham a birthday card.

7. T-Mac: Would be top five if not for those Maoist Rockets unis. Which, actually, were kind of a weird way to suck up to Yao's fanbase; must have just been for the benefit of the Party

8. Melo: He’s all niche appeal; many still doubt him or don’t feel the game. But they show out strong for him.

9. Duncan: People like rings and power; they’ve made an icon out of Trump.

10. Vince: Face it, the legend will never die.

11. Big Ben: A shocker. But figure that the deep, dark Wallace mystique can speak to the corner-hugging bad-ass and the “right way” pundit. . . that’s certainly the makings of a jersey dynasty.

12. Nash: The American Apparel of NBA players

13. Jermaine O’Neal: I respect the hell out of the dude, and I wonder if these sales aren’t all to Howard students in town for the weekend.

14. Paul Pierce: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he should either be much higher or much lower on this list. He’s almost like the imaginary number of high-scoring swingmen.

15. Dirk Nowitzki: My opinion of the Recluse changed forever when I discovered what a pivotal role Top Model played in his week, but I now find myself attached to Project Runway. That said, folks who want Dirk’s jersey are the same kind who find Heidi Klum sexy, and I’m not talking about the German thing.

16. Amare: I would buy an Amare suit of armor, as would the rest of this country if dude were where he should be. Why Jesus, why?

17. Manu: NYC is 35% Puerto Rican.

18. KG: I have come to the conclusion that Garnett is ahead of his time, plain and simple. Is there any other explanation for why he’s not the undisputed king of the Association, when he’s basically Iverson, Duncan, and Jermaine O’Neal wrapped up in one?

19. Ray Allen: Neighborhood favorite.

20. J-Kidd: Proof that a good portion of New York just can’t leave Jersey behind

21. Stevie Franchise: It’s been three seasons since he was relevant. Maybe he’s still big in streets, or on video games.

22. Artest: QB’s finest AND the second coming of the pre-Spree Knicks

23. Hinrich: When the Bulls had Jordan, they were the Cowboys of the NBA. There are still Cowboys fans in Philadelphia, many of them African-American.

24. Ben Gordon: Mt. Vernon kid, commuters, shares a backcourt with the resplendent Hinrich.

25. Yao Ming: Number one worldwide.


At 12/22/2005 1:55 AM, Anonymous the sockk said...

Dude on Project Runway looks like General Zod.

At 12/22/2005 5:21 AM, Blogger Drew said...

Couldn't agree more with the above.

When I was 11, I purchased the first and only jersey I would ever own: a size 32 Penny Hardaway Magic jawn. I remember catching heat because size 34 seemed to represent the cut-off between true-to-the-blacktop elementary school baller and mere pretender. This undoubtedly led to the "Most Blocked Shots (Shooter Category)" award I secured on the middle school squad.

At 12/22/2005 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actual statements made by Black Mamba, the man Vaccaro considers the smartest NBA player he's ever met:

"I was so frustrated by the loss the other night I was going to will us to victory."

"I was very angry, I felt like I wanted to come out and send a message, that we're going to dominate at home," he said. "We're going to hit you, we're going to bring it to you. I wanted to send that message."

WHERE is his inner loudspeaker?

At 12/22/2005 9:24 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

for a very short time in seventh grade i had a Clyde Drexler Dream Team jersey, but i foolishly traded it away to precocious hobby-merchant Alex Wade for several unopened packs of '91 skybox and a Beckett subscription.
i used to don the AC Green back in college, but after i lost my virginity it no longer felt authentic.
nowadays i don't feel particularly committed to any jersey, spiritually or aesthetically. maybe if Mitchell and Ness turn out a Jeff Van Gundy Sonics throwback, i could get my groove back. until then, it seems i am doomed to wander.

At 12/22/2005 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent a lot of time working in the sports industry in Asia (and China specifically) - while Yao enjoys SUPREME popularity amongst the general population . . .real Chinese NBA fans - the aspirational ones, the ones who know the stats and watch the games in the morning or torrent them or whatever - they, much like everyone else in the world - buy jerseys of players they want to imitate. Aggressive, high flying guards.

Thus the most popular NBA jerseys in China - you can start with AI, Kobe, TMac and Vince Carter. Oh, Yao's popular too - just not to the heights of the other guys.

At 12/22/2005 11:16 AM, Blogger zachille o'neal said...

I went to Europe during the Last World cup, and made it a point to pick up as many jerseys in as many countries as financially and stylishly possibly. During my time in Germany, I picked a smooth-fitting (jerseys in the US are made for tall fuckers, but oh, not in Europe) home Nowitzki jersey. I was rocking it the whole trip. As I was hiking up a mountain to some historic German castle, a crew lil' Deutsch kids saw the Dirk, ran away from their class trip, and surrounded me. They maniacally started screaming two things: "NOWITZKI!!!" and " GARNETT!!!!" in gruff German accents, and were doing their own versions or reverse two-handed slams and tomahawks in unison. It was quite a sight. Incidentally, I passed up on purchasing the ROY Gaol jersey while I was in Madrid (dude does some amazing chocolate commercials in Spain, helping fat Spanish kids dunk with the aid of chocolate) in favor of the freshest Nike Brasil uni.

At 12/22/2005 11:20 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

why would KG be bigger in germany than in america?

At 12/22/2005 11:28 AM, Blogger zachille o'neal said...

germans apparently know the score.

At 12/22/2005 11:55 AM, Anonymous aug said...

I'm suprised vince and kidd are that high. I can't take the nets unis. Something about them and the quality of the camera or something about the way their games look just put me to sleep. It's really hard for me to watch more than 5 minutes of a nets game. Even the sportscenter highlights of their games get to me. I have no idea what it is. Now i just mope around lamenting the fact i can't listen to marv albert anymore.

When i was a kid, i was all about the newest jerseys, but now the only ones i wear are older jerseys of players on different teams or lost stars. There is no way a person of my stature and genetic makeup can pulloff wearing a new amare jersey unless i'm at a game. Being half hispanic doesn't cut it, i would just look like a fool. However, i have been able to pull off the childrens xl old warriors webber jersey or the bucks vin baker jersey with the right ensemble.

I'm suprised melo is so low. His story seems to ring true with so many more people than the silver spoon fed lebron. Also, the nuggets color scheme is much more attractive than those cavs jerseys.

At 12/22/2005 12:16 PM, Blogger zachille o'neal said...

i feel you on the nets jerseys. something about them makes them look like they were manufactured from the funds of a community bake sale or something. the shots of the continental airlines arena look exacty as dank as the place really is. the nets throwbacks however (red, white, and blue - the ones they rocked in the finals vs. the spurs) are by far my favorite throwbacks, save for the Magic black pinstripes.

At 12/22/2005 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out in your jersey rankings post that Manu Ginobli is not Puerto rican, he's actually from argentina. And yes, there is a huge difference.

At 12/22/2005 12:50 PM, Blogger Ken said...

Silver spoon fed LeBron?

At 12/22/2005 12:57 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

that was kind of the joke with the manu comment. as we've said many times in the past, argentine ballers might as well be euros, not in the least because many of them claim italian ancestry

and while ken's right that bron hardly had it easy in his youth, when you compare their respective experiences in the nba bron has been the favorite son of the two (and melo suffered for having always been linked to bron)

At 12/22/2005 1:41 PM, Anonymous 412hater215 said...

Two points of order. First, New York is about 63% Puerto Rican. Second, some consideration should be given to the fact that a Kidd or Carter NJ curtain will soon be a flashy BK throwie. Also, if you have a Vince jersey, you can pretend you're wearing a Clarence Carter custom made jersey.

At 12/22/2005 1:43 PM, Anonymous 412hater215 said...

New York is about 71% Puerto Rican if you count Flatbush Charlie and Philipino people.

At 12/22/2005 2:00 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

first of all, anyone who thinks shoals really thought ginobili was puerto rican is fucking retarded. also, counting filipinos as puerto rican = funny.

i don't know what it says about me, but i want either dirk's black german national team jersey or the green mavs throwback joint AND i want to father heidi klum's first non-seal baby. so, i guess shoals got that part right.

At 12/22/2005 2:04 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

while i'm thinking about who might want to cop a dirk jersey, i should note that top 5 high school stud and SLAM diarist thaddeus young's favorite player is mr. nowitski. i just thought that was interesting. i've never known any 6-8 african-americans who patterned their games after a 7-foot german. but, then again, i guess i don't know many 6-8 african-americans.

At 12/22/2005 2:15 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

so everyone sees me without color: i wasn't only not talking about the german thing, i wasn't about the aryan thing, either. both heidi and dirk have that technically should be, but just ain't and are straight goofy instead, air about them

At 12/22/2005 2:24 PM, Blogger jon faith said...

Props to the anonymous notation of the huge differences between Puerto Rico and Argen-fucking-tena. Wheel out the mistruths and the myopic pop sociology: Fox News for everyone!!!

At 12/22/2005 2:33 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

their goofiness is what is so endearing. right?

At 12/22/2005 2:33 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

good god, do you really think I don't know the difference between Puerto Rico and Argentenia? have you ever heard of MOCKING people that might believe this? you've got to be pretty fucking stupid to think that a site that's abusrd to its very core would make this statement and mean it.

if you want to call me irresponsible for making that kind of joke, then maybe there's a conversation there. but again, i wonder why anyone incapable of seeing how i'm using this "fox news" trope would be reading this fucking site in the first place.

nothing beats a day where your readers accuse you of being a pretentious, self-absorbed elitist AND an ignorant, rabble-rousing hun.

At 12/22/2005 2:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

on to important things: re heidi and dirk, yes their goofiness is what makes them endearing. but they also seem weirdly oblivious to the fact that they're always just a hair shy of perfection, and therefore chronic under-achievers without an excuse. it's like watching really, reall good deleted scenes.

At 12/22/2005 2:46 PM, Blogger zachille o'neal said...

maybe this another FreeDarko inside-joke, but whats the beef with Klum?

At 12/22/2005 2:50 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

nothing to it really, i just find her really awkward, annoying and poorly used on Project Runway. she has no people skills but is too flawed to be icey. and what's with all that empty space where she tries really hard to be dignified and stern?

At 12/22/2005 3:19 PM, Anonymous the blob said...

I think KG would be higher if the Timerwolves jersey didn't have that "Flintstones meets Jonathon Taylor Thomas in 'Wild America'" feel. Just a thought.

At 12/22/2005 7:04 PM, Blogger El Huracan Andreo said...

I think I found what Stan Van is doing now as a consultant for the team

I wonder if those pez colored jerseys will keep Wade on top. Ewww.

At 12/22/2005 8:59 PM, Anonymous robert (allright) said...

Big Ben is not a shocker, and I bet his jersey ranks higher when you factor in total sales USA. He's the working man's hero. undrafted. undersized for his position. cut. traded. can't shoot. no handles. he could easily be playing parks and rec with the rest of us douche bags, but no. something about Ben is ALL AMERICAN to the core. Homeboy made the NBA his little bitch. He has a ring, lads. He is the reigning D player of the year. He has started on the ALL STAR team. He is the fucking heart and soul of the best team in the Association. He is a players player. A mans man. Ben Wallace is everyting the common man wishes for himself. That's why I proudly sport my #3 in Home and Away and I am about to buy the new Red jersey. #3 of course.

One more thing. P.R. and Philipino's are both white trash of the sea. But remember this-- they got fine ass women. I married one, I know.

At 12/22/2005 9:30 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

wallace is both the underdog who scaled the mountain and an underground king. maybe he's what i want so badly to believe KG is, image-wise. maybe KG's just too otherworldly to matter, while big ben, like you said, is never far from you and i.


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