January 18, 2017
We won't find out until Thursday whether or not Sixers rookie Joel Embiid will be a starter in next month's NBA All-Star Game.
But if the popularity of his jersey -- or the fact that attendance is the highest it's been since before Allen Iverson was traded more than a decade ago -- is any indication, there's reason to believe the 22-year-old will earn a date with his celebrity crush, even if he's left out of the Eastern Conference's starting five.
According to sports merchandise leader Fanatics, who compiled data from all their various sites, including the NBA Store and Sixers Shop official online stores, Embiid and the Sixers are among the most popular in basketball.
Over the past week, the Sixers are the fourth best-selling NBA team, trailing only the Warriors, Cavaliers and Bulls in total merchandise sales. Embiid, who is averaging 19.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.3 minutes per game, ranks fifth among all NBA players in terms of merchandise sold in that time frame.
But it's been more than just the last seven days, when Embiid's online All-Star campaign really jumped into high gear.
Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Sixers merchandise ranks in the top-10 of NBA teams. Their total sales are up 110 percent compared to the same period in 2016, marking the largest year-over-year increase of any NBA teams this season.
And it doesn't look like that will be ending anytime soon. In January alone, Sixers merchandise has spiked more than 150 pct. compared to January 2016.
Should Embiid be named an All-Star, you can add another jersey to that list.
The Sixers, who have won six of their last eight games, play host to Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Embiid (illness) did not participate in the morning shootaround and is questionable, as is T.J. McConnell (wrist).
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