In terms of social status, athletes rank right up there with movie stars and musicians. Not just any basketball player enjoys superstar status, though. Generally, only the highest caliber players from the National Basketball Association are able to build a brand that easily sells jerseys, shoes and even autographs for top dollar. Having the off-the-court charisma certainly does not hurt a player’s case either.
Here are some of the most popular NBA players gracing the court today.
Lebron James (Miami Heat)
There is little doubt that King James is the most popular, and therefore most highly-scrutinized player currently active in the NBA. James is essentially this era’s version of Michael Jordan. The public is so interested in the 6-foot-8 small forward, that when it came time for him to announce which team he would sign with out of free agency, ESPN devoted an hour-long special to the occasion. Just last season, James finally broke through and captured an NBA Championship ring along with his Miami Heat teammates. Still just 27 years old, the phenomenon known as Lebron James is not going away any time soon.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
The Bulls stumbled through the postseason last year after losing this star to a knee injury. Rose is obviously a vital part of the Bulls and his popularity is right on par with his talent. A study released earlier in the year by the NBA revealed that Rose’s jersey was the top-selling jersey of any player in the NBA. Fans are not only dying to drape that No. 1 across their chests and back, but are also flocking to his shoe line.
Jeremy Lin (Houston Rockets)
Fans might be waiting to see if last year’s breakout season for Lin was a fluke or the real thing, but in terms of popularity, no one can deny that Lin is at the top thanks to a meteoric rise. The 6-foot-3 Harvard graduate, who toggled between the NBA and the league’s farm system, prompted an era dubbed “Linsanity” when his breakout performance led the New York Knicks on a lengthy winning streak last season. Lin was all anyone could talk about for much of the season, and he still has the attention of many as he joins up with the Houston Rockets for the upcoming year.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Aside from Lebron James, Kobe Bryant has been one of the most celebrated players of the last few decades. While Bryant may be on the last leg of his career at age 34, he is the most recognizable figure for the most recognizable team in all of basketball. Fans both young and old flock to his merchandise and memorabilia. There is little the 6-foot-6 shooting guard has not accomplished, including owning a jaw-dropping five NBA championship rings.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Since breaking into the league as a rookie in 2007, the 6-foot-9 sharpshooting small forward has watched his stock rise steadily. Durant was a high-profile collegiate player during his time at the University of Texas, and he parlayed that into popularity with the NBA. While Durant does not play for a big-market team, his talent is undeniable. Illustrated in the fact he is a three-time all-star selection and was named Rookie of the Year in 2008. While Durant is still seeking his first piece of an NBA title, the Thunder reached the NBA finals last year, bowing out to the Miami Heat.
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