The Los Angeles Lakers continue to generate interest despite average form in the first weeks of NBA basketball’s return.
The Lakers had a disappointing offseason, struggling to trade Russell Westbrook in exchange for valuable rotation pieces as they had planned. The Purple and Gold ended up with a few shooters on the roster, which came back to haunt them in the preseason.
L.A. won only one of its six exhibition games in the lead-up to Opening Night, showing a worryingly disjointed offense that struggled to shoot the ball well. But even in the absence of blockbuster trades and good results, Lakers gear was still in high demand, according to sports retailer Lids.
The Purple and Gold sold the second-most gear of any NBA team in the preseason, behind only the Chicago Bulls. L.A.’s sportswear dominated sales in five states, California, Nevada, New York, Alaska, and Hawaii.
LeBron James’ No. 6 jersey proved to be the most popular NBA top ahead of former Chicago Bulls icon Scottie Pippen and ex-Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter. Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey came in seventh, making the Lakers only the second NBA team behind Chicago to have multiple players in the top 10.
James and the Lakers remain incredibly popular after leading jersey and merchandise sales in 2021-22. The four-time NBA champion’s uniform ranked first ahead of Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden — who moved to Philly after spending the first half of the season with the Brooklyn Nets — and Golden State Warriors fan favorite Stephen Curry.
Merchandise popularity mirrored jersey sales with the Lakers leading the 76ers and Warriors.
Paul Gasol & George Mikan will have Lakers jerseys retired in 2022-23
Two Lakers jerseys should see a boost in demand this year as the late George Mikan and Pau Gasol will have their numbers retired by the franchise during 2022-23.
L.A. will send Mikan’s No. 99 jersey up the rafters on Oct. 30, celebrating the legacy of one of the most dominant centers in NBA history. “Mr. Basketball” led the Minneapolis Lakers to five BAA/NBA titles in the late ’40s and early ‘50s, proving to be so unguardable in the paint he inspired a number of rule changes in the league’s early days.
Meanwhile, Gasol’s jersey retirement ceremony will take place on March 7 as the Lakers will host the Spaniard’s first NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol recently said he was “humbled” and “excited” for the big day, particularly as he will see his No. 16 jersey hanging next to Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24.
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