LeBron James may be the most electrifying player in the NBA, and is certainly the most heavily marketed, earning an NBA-best $25 million per year in endorsements. But despite all that, James is still not the game’s most popular athlete, and sales of his Nike shoes and apparel are described as “average.”
James ranks third among NBA players in replica jersey sales worldwide. And in China, where he’s been marketed heavily, he’s only ranked fifth. Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett both sell more jerseys that LeBron. What do those guys have in common? Championships, for one. But they also both wear the iconic uniforms of the Lakers and Celtics, and play in huge media markets. Will LeBron ever be King of the World in Cleveland?