Kobe’s Jersey Most Popular in China

LeBron James so often talks about his goal of becoming a “global icon.” Having a top selling jersey in China — a country of 1.3 billion — would probably be a good starting point. Maybe he’s jealous of Kobe Bryant because come to find out, 24 has the top selling jersey in China for the second year in a row. It’s pretty funny that Yao has slid to the 10th spot because he’s the top NBA player from China. They say everyone who would want a Yao jersey probably already has one. And in case you’re wondering why Kobe switched from Ocho to 24, maybe we now have our answer.

Now the guy who’s probably experienced the biggest resurgence is Kevin Garnett. The spike in his jersey sales is probably attributed to him switching teams from Minnesota to Boston. KG had the top selling jersey in the U.S., as well as the second highest in China. After that it was T-Mac third, followed by Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade (loved by the Euros), Dwight Howard, and Yao. Since it has been a few years since Kobe switched his jersey number, one must only assume his popularity in China is due to his fantastic nickname there; they know him as “Little Flying Warrior.” That’s a pretty tight nickname if you ask me. Though maybe it’s not just the nickname. Perhaps it’s his badass game putting him in MJ’s company that’s getting it done instead.

Jewish Jordan Signs With Israeli Heat

There’s been a ton of crazy stuff going on lately with basketball players going European. We had Brandon Jennings spurn Arizona for Europe, Josh Childress go Greek, LeBron say he’d consider Europe, and Kobe say the same thing. We also have seen several foreign NBA players return to Europe this off-season where they’re making greater annual salaries. Jordan Farmar went to Israel to teach his fellow Jews how to ball in a workshop. Even Carlos Arroyo just signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv. And if that weren’t enough, all 5’5″ of Earl Boykins went to an Italian team. But the real big news is that the Jewish Jordan, Tamir Goodman, has signed with the Maccabi Haifa Heat.

Goodman was profiled in Sports Illustrated a while back, and much like any Jew in sports, he received plenty of notice and promotion from the community. He was billed “The Jewish Jordan” and was even offered a scholarship to play at Maryland, which he turned down because he did not want to play on the Sabbath (he don’t dunk on Shomer Shabbas). As for his thoughts on the nickname, “I loved Michael Jordan, but I never really liked the nickname … It doesn’t match me really well, both on and off the court.” Anyway, you should be pleased to know that Goodman went from being a highly touted recruit in the U.S. to playing professionally in Israel. Too bad he didn’t sign with my personal favorite team — the West Bank Shots — but his game will be on display with the Israeli Heat. Niiiice.

Could Greek Team Offer LeBron $40 or $50 Million a Season?

Just as I had finished penning my “Euro Leagues will never threaten the NBA” post, I came across the Ian Thomsen story on SI saying a Greek team may take a run at LeBron when he becomes a free agent. My whole premise was along the same lines as why MLS won’t ever threaten the EPL and European soccer — it’s not popular enough in the country. Until basketball in Europe becomes as big of a business as the NBA is in the U.S., our top level talent won’t be leaving the States to play abroad. And I don’t think Europe or any other leagues could ever approach the type of popularity and revenue that the NBA generates.

Anyway, the basis for Thomsen’s piece is that the owners of the Greek team Olympiakos — for whom Josh Childress has already agreed to play — want to win at any cost. That’s why they signed Childress, who likely won’t generate enough revenue to cover his contract. So when LeBron James does become a free agent, Olympiakos could step in and offer him an uncapped salary that could approach $40 or $50 million a season if they wanted to. It’s not like the league here where the max deal would be around $20 million. I’m still skeptical for several reasons.

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Josh Howard in Speed Racer Remake

Even if Josh Hamilton drops out of the home run race in the American League, good to know the state of Texas will still have a triple crown winner this year. Mavericks guard/forward Josh Howard completed the trifecta by getting arrested for speeding in his hometown of Winston-Salem. Ironically enough, Howard was in town for a basketball camp sponsored by his foundation. Well, the campers should be happy to know that Howard was setting a great example by getting clocked doing 94mph and was charged with speeding, careless and reckless driving, and racing, according to the police report. That’s a pretty strong effort for just one evening right there.

Thing is, this just caps off the perfect season for Josh Howard. If you remember back in May, there was a report out there that Josh Howard threw a birthday party following the team’s Game 4 loss in the playoffs against the wishes of Coach Avery Johnson. If you remember correctly, the Mavs lost in 5 games to the Hornets, and Josh Howard had a horrendous series. Yes, and that all came after Howard admitted to toking up the ganja as well. Like I said, our man sure did complete the trifecta. All he needs to do now for the superfecta is follow in the Travis Henry footsteps.

Forget Kobe and Jordan: Paul Pierce Says He’s the Best Player in the World

I’ve been pretty high on Paul Pierce in the past, saying that he deserved some MVP consideration based on how valuable he was to the horrendous Celtics squad from two years ago. Even though I think highly of Pierce — especially after the way he performed in the playoffs this year — calling him the best player in the world is a stretch. I figure guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and maybe even Chris Paul can lay claim to that argument. Anyhow, when asked who the best player in the world was, Pierce’s answer was himself, and added he even added this:

“There’s a line that separates having confidence and being conceited. I don’t cross that line, but I have a lot of confidence in myself.”

“I have an opinion, I have a right to have one and that’s the way I feel. I felt I’ve played against the best over the years and felt right now that I’m the best player in the world.”

You know what? Damn the man, why should he let anyone tell him that he’s not he best player in the world? As long as he thinks it and is a confident player who backs it up, what’s wrong with maintaining that attitude? Sure, it’s a problem when Ricky Davis thinks that way because then he’s jacking up 20 shots a game, but when Paul Pierce is in the NBA Finals, maybe that attitude helps give him a competitive edge on the court. I appreciate that attitude. It might be incorrect, but he sure does have the last laugh, not to mention a Finals MVP Trophy to go with it.

Michael Jordan Would Take Kobe Bryant in His Prime

I wasn’t too happy when people started drumming up all the Kobe/MJ comparisons during the playoffs this year. Many folks in the media were prematurely anticipating Kobe winning his fourth ring. As I’ve said before, Kobe’s Kobe and MJ’s MJ. They both have been the best basketball player in the entire world at one point or another in their lives. Isn’t that good enough? Well, just for all you curious folks out there, Michael Jordan answered the question of a camper at his Flight School at UCSB. Who could take who, Michael Jordan, or Kobe Bryant? Let’s find out what His Airness said:

Come on, did you really expect anything less of him — especially in front of his campers?? As for the debate at hand, MJ will always be the best in my eyes. That is, until the next Michael Jordan comes around, of course.

NBA Player Uses Alias ‘Sponge Bob Square Pants’ at Hotels

The USA Basketball team is now in Beijing getting ready for Olympics tuneups. Before that though, they were in Las Vegas practicing and whatnot. Though this note is a little old at this point, it’s a goodie. It comes to us from the Las Vegas Review-Journal via Ben Maller.

Members of Team USA are keeping an age-old tradition of celebrity aliases alive.

Spies tell me that one of the star players goes by the alias “Bruce Wayne,” the alter ego of “Batman,” and another has taken the name “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the animated cartoon character from the hit TV show of the same name.

Several Team USA players have been using their favorite aliases during their stay at Wynn Las Vegas this week.

In the stands, when the U.S. Olympic squad faces Canada’s Olympic men’s basketball team tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center, could be Michael Jordan, who has been known to use the name “Clark Kent” and “Mr. Sterling” at Las Vegas hotels and restaurants.

Alright, SpongeBob SquarePants? My money’s on Dwight Howard. It’s already been well-publicized that Howard’s kind of a closet-nerd and that he’s a fan of cartoons. Though I would bet on Howard, any player on the team that has a kid is pretty likely to have watched the cartoon at some point. Still, I’ll go with Howard here. Or could Jason Kidd be our culprit?!