Carmelo Anthony is No. 1 - in jersey sales.
Anthony's powder blue Denver Nuggets "swingman" jersey sold 230,691 units last year, beating out Michael Vick's alternate black jersey by a little more than 4,200 shirts, according to statistics from SportScanInfo, a Florida-based firm that does market research for the athletic apparel industry.
And although LeBron James' white Cleveland Cavaliers uniform top was third, the second-year player far outpaced Anthony in overall sales. James had eight different uniform styles - home jerseys, road jerseys, "throwback" jerseys, "swingman" jerseys - among the top 100, which sold more than 1.17 million units. Anthony had seven styles in the top 100 that totaled about 734,000.
"It's a very popular jersey," said Neil Schwartz, director of marketing for SportScanInfo, of the swingman-style top, which NBA players wear over their uniforms during warm-ups. The jersey was sold for an average of $60.71.
Anthony and James traded the top-selling spot all year depending on who had a new jersey out at the moment, Schwartz said. And he said trying to figure out whose jerseys are the most popular "is starting to get like cutting a piece of dental floss."
Last year was a tough one for Anthony, who played at Towson Catholic before leading Syracuse to the NCAA championship in 2003. He complained about riding the bench for the underachieving U.S. Olympic basketball team, was involved in a scuffle at a New York nightclub, was charged for trying to carry less than an ounce of marijuana through security at the Denver airport (the charges were later dropped), and appeared in a DVD made in Baltimore in which alleged drug dealers speak of doing harm to people who cooperate with police.
But the incidents did little to damage Anthony's appeal.
"There are really only 10 guys who mean anything in the NBA, and he's one of them," said Ryan Schinman, president of Platinum Rye Entertainment, a marketing company that hires athletes to represent corporations. "He and LeBron are the new faces of the NBA."