Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why NBA Superstars Change Numbers Without Changing Teams

(Photo from Zimbio)
Well, isn't this already old news! I started writing this last night and got tired hoping to finish it today only to be outdone by Yahoo Sports, drats! But maybe I can provide some more insight with a little history thrown in. Anyway...

LeBron James is changing his number from Le23 to Le6 to honor Michael Jordan (who never played for the Cavs and had one of his many famous shots AGAINST the Cavs that sent the Cavs home out of the playoffs).


LeBron James's 23 was because of Jordan in the first place (Cleveland.com). Changing his number isn't honoring Jordan. Picking his number was. And as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo mentioned, LeBron calling out the league to change their 23 jerseys is so... (insert vocab word for "are you fucking kidding me?") Mr. Holier Than Thou wants to "honor" the greatest ever and wants everyone to change their 23's so it masks what he's really doing; getting paid.

Let's look at some jersey sales:

This year (through Jan 2010):
1) Kobe Bryant
2) LeBron James
3) Dwight Howard
4) Derrick Rose
5) Dwyane Wade
6) Kevin Garnett
7) Chris Paul
8) Paul Pierce
9) Shaquille O'Neal
10) Pau Gasol
11) Carmelo Anthony
12) Steve Nash
13) David Lee
14) Allen Iverson
15) Kevin Durant
Inside Hoops

1. Kobe Bryant (Lakers)
2. LeBron James (Cavaliers)
3. Chris Paul (Hornets)
4. Kevin Garnett (Celtics)
5. Allen Iverson (Pistons)
6. Dwyane Wade (Heat)
7. Paul Pierce (Celtics)
8. Nate Robinson (Knicks)
9. Pau Gasol (Lakers)
10. Dwight Howard (Magic)
11. Derrick Rose (Bulls)
12. Ray Allen (Celtics)
13. Steve Nash (Suns)
14. Shaquille O'Neal (Suns)
15. Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets)

1. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Allen Iverson, Denver Nuggets
5. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
6. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
7. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
8. Shaquille O’Neal, Phoenix Suns
9. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
10. Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards
11. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
12. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
13. Tracy McGrady, Houston Rockets
14. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
15. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Denver Post

1. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
2. Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat
3. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Allen Iverson – Denver Nuggets
5. Steve Nash – Phoenix Suns
6. Carmelo Anthony – Denver Nuggets
7. Stephon Marbury – New York Knicks
8. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks
9. Gilbert Arenas – Washington Wizards
10. Vince Carter – New Jersey Nets
11. Tracy McGrady – Houston Rockets
12. Shaquille O’Neal – Miami Heat
13. Paul Pierce – Boston Celtics
14. Ben Wallace – Chicago Bulls
15. Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs

1. Dwyane Wade
2. LeBron James
3. Allen Iverson
4. Kobe Bryant
5. Stephon Marbury
6. Shaquille O'Neal
7. Tracy McGrady
8. Carmelo Anthony
9. Vince Carter
10. Ben Wallace

1) Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
2) Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers)
3) LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
4) Stephon Marbury (New York Knicks)
5) Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
6) Shaquille O'Neal (Miami Heat)
7) Tracy McGrady (Houston Rockets)
8) Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets)
9) Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
10) Vince Carter (New Jersey Nets)
11) Ben Wallace (Detroit Pistons)
12) Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns)
13) Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana Pacers)
14) Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)
15) Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
16) Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns)
17) Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs)
18) Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Inside Hoops

1. LeBron James
2. Carmelo Anthony
3. Tracy McGrady
4. Allen Iverson
5. Kobe Bryant
6. Jason Kidd
7. Shaquille O’Neal
8. Paul Pierce
9. Allan Houston
10. Tim Duncan
11. Vince Carter
12. Kevin Garnett

Inside Hoops

Let's look at the other superstar that changed his number without changing teams:

Kobe Bryant
His per year sales rank:
2003-2004 - 7th
2004-2005 - 5th
2005-2006 - 4th
(Summer of 06, changed from 8 to 24)
2006-2007 - 1st
2007-2008 - 2nd
2008-2009 - 1st
2009-2010 - 1st (so far)

Changed numbers, went from 4-7 range to 1-2 range. And it's not like the Lakers did anything significant after 05-06. They got bounced in the first round by the Suns. And you know what? The same thing happened the very next year and he still had the most jersey sales. Why would he stay at the top of the jersey sales if people already have his number 8 jersey? Change the jersey number, double your jersey sales. But what if you don't change your jersey number? How else can you get jersey sales? Well you could change teams ala

Kevin Garnett

His per year sales rank:
2003-2004 - 12th
2004-2005 -18th
2005-2006 - not in the top 10
2006-2007 - not in the top 15
2007-2008 - 1st (Went to Boston - also went from #21 to #5)
2008-2009 - 4th
2009-2010 - 6th

Well there you go. Even after his MVP 2004 season, his sales took a hit. People already had KG jerseys. All they have to do is keep wearing it to show their support. But changing jerseys? Hey, fans have to update their wardobe, regardless of whether he kept #21 or not (KG changed numbers by default as his Minnesota #21 could not transfer because the Celtics have retired #21 for Bill Sharman.) The best example of the power of changing team jerseys is

Shaquille O'Neal

Per Year:
2003-2004 - 7th (Lakers)
Traded to Heat
2004-2005 -6th
2005-2006 - 6th
2006-2007 -12th
Traded to Suns
2007-2008 - 8th
2008-2009 - 14th
Traded to Cavs
2009-2010 - 9th

His rank always jumped when he changed teams, then filtered down. Went from 7th to 6th when he went to Miami, dropped to 12th. Went to the suns and 12 turned into 8th, but that dropped to 14th. Went to the Cavs and 14 jumped to 9th. Why... it's like one of those annoying roller coasters that never does a huge drop, just a bunch of hilly kinda drops. Like Colossus at Magic Mountain. So what does this look like for LeBron?

LeBron James

Per year:
2003-2004 - 1st
2004-2005 -3rd
2005-2006 -2nd
2006-2007 - 3rd
2007-2008 - 3rd
2008-2009 - 2nd
2009-2010 - 2nd

Even LeBron got to taste what it's like when something's new. As soon as he got an NBA jersey, he went to #1 and has hovered around the top since he entered the league. Now what we don't know is how much money these sales are generating, we just know the ranks. But I'm going to go ahead and guarantee that LeBron goes to the number 1 spot, and that everyone who bought his 23 Cleveland jersey goes out and buys his New York #6 jersey.

--UPDATE 3/3/10 3:21 --It turns out that in the NBA, a players TEAM gets all the jersey sales money and splits it among that team. So LeBron will see an increase in money, but not 100% of it will go to him. Varajao, Shaq, Jamison and the rest of the Cavs will see a piece of his jersey sales. I apologize for jumping to that conclusion. --

And that's honestly it. To LeBron, enjoy your many more millions (not even being sarcastic) but don't penalize Marcus Camby, Jason Richardson, and the other players who wear 23. You wore 23 and they have every right to wear it just like you have the right to wear #6. Superstars jerseys don't sell because they flame out, or people already have them. More jerseys = more jersey sales. It's simple. It's between the baselines.



Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. Are you saying that NBA players get a cut of their jersey sales? I thought the NBA pocketed the money. Maybe it's just ego-wanting to be No. 1.

ReadBetweenTheBaselines said...

Anonymous, please read my update in the post. The Team gets the jersey sales and divides among all the team's players. Thank you for the heads up, and hopefully it doesn't happen again!

KneeJerkNBA said...

I think the Superstolens still get the money from any Sonics gear sold, too. So all you retro collectors, buy that stuff on EBay and give Clay Bennett the middle finger.

ReadBetweenTheBaselines said...

Oh that's horrible! good advice

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