NEW YORK — Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks playmaker who became an instant icon in February, finished second to NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose in jersey sales over the past year, the NBA said Thursday.
Annual sales figures released at the end of each season showed Chicago star Rose, who climbed from fifth on last year’s list to No. 1 over the past 12 months, on top with Lin, who only came to prominence two months ago, in second.
No overall jersey sales figures were released by the league and the sales figures came only from internet purchases and those made at the NBA Store in New York.
Lin, 23, had surgery earlier this month to repair an injured left knee. He could return for the Knicks in May if they reach the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Lin, an American whose parents are from Taiwan, became a global sensation as the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA when he was plucked from the bench in February due to injuries to Knicks stars.
The Harvard graduate had been cut by two other teams and was days away from seeing his NBA dreams end before the Knicks gave him a look.
With drives to the basket, pinpoint passes and top shooting efforts even in the final seconds, Lin sparked a seven-game win streak for the Knicks and built a following known as “Linsanity” that kept him in the lineup long after the streak ended and the stars returned.
The Bulls reclaimed the top spot in overall merchandise sales for the first time since 2001, the aftermath of the Michael Jordan championship era, thanks largely to Rose. Miami was on top last year.
The Knicks were second overall thanks to Lin, whose skyrocket jersey sales in February and March pushed him ahead of No. 3 Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, No. 4 LeBron James and No. 5 Carmelo Anthony, his Knicks teammate.
Jersey sales leaders next in order were Miami’s Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, Rajon Rondo of Boston and Amare Stoudemire of the Knicks.
Team merchandise sales saw the Lakers third, Miami fourth and reigning NBA champion Dallas in fifth. The Lakers had topped all team merchandise annual reports since the end of the 2008 season until the Bulls this year.