Kristaps Porzingis jumps into fourth in jersey sales this season
With the season at its midway point, New York Knicks rookie power forward Kristaps Porzingis has made an impact on the court, but off of it as well.
The fourth overall pick of the 2015 NBA draft has the fourth best selling jersey in the league based on sales from October through December at the NBA’s official online store, the league announced on Wednesday.
Porzingis, who is the only rookie among the top 15 best sellers, only trailed Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
Butler makes his debut as a member of the best selling jersey list, and Indiana Pacers forward Paul George is at a personal high at No. 12, no doubt aided by playing his first full season since switching from jersey No. 24 to 13.
The most popular team in merchandise is, not surprisingly, the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors. The Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are among the top five teams, in that order.
Through 43 games, Porzingis, a 20-year-old from Latvia, has been averaging 14 points per game, which is third among rookies. His eight rebounds a game puts him only behind Karl-Anthony Towns. He leads all rookies in blocks (2.0 per game average) and free throw shooting percentage (85 percent).
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos wore a regular jersey during Sunday’s practice, but he’s still not cleared for contact.
Stamkos, who had surgery to remove a blood clot near his collarbone on April 4 and has not played since, participated in all the drills as his team prepares for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night at Consol Energy Center. He had been wearing a red no-contact jersey in previous practices. Stamos, 26, has no restrictions besides no contact and he’s still taking blood thinners. Once he’s off the blood thinners, he has to wait 24 hours before he’s allowed to take contact.
“I was a little numb. I was in somewhat of I would say, disbelief,” Smith said during a conference call. “This will be a celebration for the fans, the Buffalo Bills organization and the NFL.”
Smith grew emotional in noting how he was informed of the honor a day after Mother’s Day, knowing what this would have meant to his mother, Annie Lee, who died two years ago.