Jersey sales would certainly suggest that. The NBA released the top 15 selling jerseys from April through Cyber Monday, and James has reclaimed the top spot.
James last had the top-selling jersey in April 2011, less than a year after he joined the Miami Heat via “The Decision” and before his poor performance in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
Since that loss, James swore off the swirl around his move to Miami and concentrated on basketball. The rewards were both tangible – his third MVP award, a Finals MVP as the Heat won the championship, an Olympic gold medal – and intangible, with the jersey sales indicating a rise in popularity.
Also rising in popularity are the New York Knicks, who are now the top-selling team, moving up from No. 2. They overtook the Chicago Bulls, who fell to fourth as their overall sales clearly have been hurt by the injury to Derrick Rose.
Rose, the 2011 MVP, held the top spot before being overtaken by James. He has not played since tearing his ACL in the 2012 postseason opener and is due back sometime around the All-Star break. Overall, he fell to fifth.
The Los Angeles Lakers have three players among the top 15 sellers – Kobe Bryant (3), Dwight Howard (9) and Steve Nash (13).
The sales survey is taken bi-annually. Since 2001, James has held the top spot three times. Kobe Bryant has held it six times.
Here are the top 15 individual jersey sellers: