Approaching top-selling status, learn why the Grizzlies guard is just getting started when it comes to building up his fan gear fanfare.
Ja Morant is a man not defined by metrics, but rather by moments.
Since his rookie arrival, Ja’s leaped past peers and over defenders, debunking any doubts about what he can accomplish on the court. However, off the court? When it comes to clout and cultural cachet, next to no one’s touching the Memphis Grizzlies point guard.
In 2023, it’s unquantifiable emotion that ignites the impact of Ja. However, his analytics still impress.
Appearing in the top 10 for points, assists, and usage rate, Ja has the numbers to back the braggadocio.
Where gusto and graphs collide is NBA jerseys sales, a space where Ja has recently ascended to No. 6.
Trailing four MVP winners and Luka Dončić — a star with the state of Texas and Slovenia behind him — Ja is making himself a household name where highlights and apparel are concerned.
Of the top 10, the 23-year-old Morant is the youngest player in the pack.
Only one player ranked ahead of him — two-time MVP and NBA champion Giannis Antetokounmpo — plays in a smaller market.
Additionally, only the leading seller — Stephen Curry — garners more views on social media according to NBA data.
Over the course of Ja’s 3.5 years as a pro, a lot’s gone right for the superstar and his employer. During the said span, the league has leaned on Nike to outfit all 30 teams. This season in Memphis, four different Ja Morant uniforms are in play with each being sold online and in the stadium.
Each edition — Association, Statement, Icon, and City — plays a part in making Morant a fan favorite and top seller.
The collaboration between the Swoosh’s aesthetic storytelling and Ja’s airborne assaults has the league on tilt, moving Morant supporters to the cash register regularly.
Sure, this thread may go over the head of fans and defenders. However, it’s not lost on the franchise.
“Working with Nike? Their designers are best in class,” John Pugliese, Grizzlies VP of Broadcast and Production, told Boardroom in 2022. “When you take the top in athlete performance and pair it with top-end artists, we’ve been able to create great stuff with their team and our team.”
This season, Morant’s climbing up the superstar selling ladder by way of four game jerseys with an All-Star iteration soon to come.
As Boardroom explores, the number of styles and sales are only going to increase.
The Future is the Past
For Ja to take the top spot on the NBA’s best-selling jersey list, he’ll have to move forward as a player while waxing poetic stylistically.
If that sentence lost you, let us prove our point.
Consider this: Stephen Curry, the No. 1 seller in 2023, has played in 50 different uniforms over the course of his career despite playing for only one franchise.
This season alone, the Golden State Warriors sell seven different Steph jerseys at retail.
Four fall into the mentioned models of Nike’s league-wide formula — City, Association, Icon, and Statement — while a Swoosh-stamped Classic Edition is also in play on-court. To top it all off, two throwbacks from Mitchell & Ness complete the cipher as a nod to Steph’s storied start.
Aesthetically and commercially, it’s the perfect marriage. For fans of a certain age, Steph pushed the game into the future while still showing love for the past. In due time, Morant may manage to do exactly the same.
So far, Ja has played in retro renditions of Grizzlies gear twice in his young career. In his debut season, Ja put up poster dunks in the teal Vancouver Grizzlies jersey akin to the ’90s days of Mike Bibby and Shareef Abdul-Rahim.
“Our Vancouver teal Classic Edition hit hard and people loved it,” Pugliese says. “From a merchandising and gear standpoint, we’re still selling that in our team store and seeing it throughout our arena.”
Though T-shirts, shorts, jackets, and hats all aligned with the early Grizzlies garb can be purchased in-arena, Ja jerseys from the said season have long been sold out.
Demand absolutely eclipsed supply as no one knew just how popular the pairing would be.
By Ja’s second season, there were more metrics to work with. The team brought back the ’00s black-based road uniforms associated with Jason Williams and Pau Gasol, outfitting the reigning Rookie of the Year in a nostalgic narrative.
Said style performed well, scratching the surface of the on-court icon and fan favorite Ja’s quickly become.
For those looking to pay top dollar for a Ja throwback or purchase a fake one from overseas, hold that credit card. Soon, fans will have another chance at the sought-after Classic Edition jerseys made for Morant.
“We’ll definitely see a return of those come our anniversary seasons,” says Pugliese. “We have a 30th anniversary of the Grizzlies coming up in 2024-25 and our 25th anniversary in Memphis coming up in 2025-26.”
Because of this retro revival and increased appetite for Morant, the Grizzlies guard could take to the top spot as soon as 2024 or 2025.
“We’re going to celebrate those Classic years again,” Pugliese says. “Back to back.”
To catch Curry and the likes of LeBron, Ja’s journey is far from finished.
Fortunately, he started it at just the right time.
Heart of the City
Entering the NBA in 2019 is the equivalent of scoring your own signature shoe in the late ’00s.
Just as Nike has juiced the number of KD colorways compared to the early days of Air Jordan, Ja joined the Association right as the tide was changing.
Since 2018, Nike and the NBA have been producing City Edition uniforms. These thematic tanks that change annually align with the civic storytelling of each franchise while also offering stores an additional SKU to stock.
Thus far, Ja has played in four different City Edition jerseys despite playing for only one team.
“The City Edition program has been able to bring our brand to life,” Pugliese says.
“We’ve seen great increases in our merchandise sales. But more than merchandise, it’s another brand connection point with the city, the music, and our team. We were on point and able to make that connection even tighter.”
Over the course of his quarter century with the Grizzlies, Pugliese has seen fanfare for fan gear climb with the recent Nike collaborations.
By bringing out new uniforms each season inspired by the likes of Memphis hip-hop, civil rights history, and soul music, Ja’s jersey catalog is set to be loaded with smash hits and deep cuts.
So far, Ja has already played in ten different jerseys in less than four seasons. On top of that, Nike sells his Murray State throwback at select stores while also honoring the former Rookie of the Year through lifestyle launches.
As the years go by and Ja’s star continues to rise, the Grizzlies guard has a chance to top the list like Steph, LeBron, and Kobe Bryant all did before him.
Soon, No. 12 will be No. 1.
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