There may be varied opinions on whether Lakers guard Kobe Bryant's overall effectiveness has deteriorated because of age and injuries. But Bryant's performance in the Lakers' dominating 111-87 Game 5 victory Tuesday over the Oklahoma City Thunder shows his strong ability to leave a firm imprint in any role.
There also may be varied opinions on who's the league's best player, but it's indisputable Bryant still remains No. 1 when it comes to jersey sales. For the second consecutive season, Bryant's No. 24 jersey tops the NBA's list of most popular jerseys, according to the NBA, based on sales at the NBA Store in New York City and at NBAStore.com. Additionally, the Lakers remain the top-selling franchise in team merchandise for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.
Bryant pulled a very traditional acceptance speech, saying "It's obviously a great honor because you have a lot of people out there supporting you and pulling for you." But Lakers forward Pau Gasol, whose jersey is ranked No. 14 overall, had an interesting take, observing how Bryant's popularity extends beyond the United States with Mamba holding the top-selling jersey in Europe and China. Gasol promptly corrected a reporter who suggested that his jersey is more popular than Bryant's in his native Spain. "I don't think so," said Gasol, who believes he's ranked third in jersey sales behind Bryant and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. "That's a sign of how great Kobe is, how popular