From the moment he officially announced that it would be his final season, it became pretty clear that the top priority of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2015-16 season was to send Kobe Bryant off in the best way possible.
Fans came out at every arena across the NBA showing their love and support for Kobe as his number 24 jersey filled the stands. If there were ever any questions about how popular Kobe was, this season showed exactly how much he was adored by fans.
More proof of Kobe’s popularity came in the form of jersey sales as Kobe placed second in the NBA in jersey sales according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell:
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, in his final season, finished second in jersey sales, followed by Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James.
Kobe trailed only back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors in sales. Lakers merchandise as a whole was surely boosted by Kobe as the team ranked third in the NBA in sales:
The Warriors finished first among team merchandising for the second straight year. The Chicago Bulls, Lakers, Cavaliers and Knicks rounded out the top five.
There have been a lot of questions in recent years about the Lakers brand and whether it still holds the same weight it once did. It seems pretty clear that even if it isn’t quite what it used to be, the Lakers remain one of the NBA’s premier franchises.
The question now becomes whether or not the Lakers will remain this high now that Kobe Bryant will no longer be suiting up for the team. Whether it is one of the young players already on the roster, or the Lakers bring in someone this off-season, the team needs that next star to carry on the franchise.