Dwight Howard Jersey

No surprise here: NBA jersey sales off 38 percent

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There are some very complex marketing principles at work here. (Re-read that sentence in your best sarcastic voice.)

Turns out if you cancel 480 NBA games, stage a lockout where the owners and players snipe at each other while sounding greedy, fewer people buy NBA jerseys. Who knew?

The New York Post has the numbers to confirm all this.

NBA threads, like the Miami Heat’s LeBron James’ — last season’s highest-selling jersey — are down 38 percent.

Most online retailers are offering 15 percent to 20 percent discounts, in addition to peddling old-school or throwback jerseys at half-price to entice visitors.

“Expect FootLocker, Champs and others to follow suit,” said an insider. “It has nothing to do with the holiday, either. Retailers understand that after the lockout, the price tag must be cut.”

Adidas has the NBA jersey deal and they may be one of the businesses happiest to see the lockout end.

There will be some dampening of NBA popularity for the lockout, but because the games were saved by Christmas — when the more casual sports fan really starts to tune in — the hit may not be that serious. We’ll see how it impacts the playoff television numbers, but most observers feel that by next season it will be back to normal for the NBA.

And jersey sales. So if you want a good deal, shop now.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.