With retirement looming, Kobe's merchandise sales have surged

Kobe Bryant's illustrious 20-year career comes to an end on Wednesday when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Ticket sales to the game are exorbitantly high and the Lakers are even selling an 18-karat gold hat that retails at $38,000 to commemorate the occasion.

And while a $38,000 hat is overkill, with his retirement just days away, fans everywhere have been buying Kobe-related merchandise, causing Bryant to now pass LeBron James for the second best-selling NBA jersey in the last 30 days. The only player behind Bryant is reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, according to Fanatics.com.

According to the online sports retailer, in the past month, Kobe-related merchandise has been sold in 59 different countries. Next to Los Angeles, Hong Kong has become the second city to buy the most Kobe-themed items in the entire world. Other cites on that list include: New York, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia -- Bryant's hometown. Overall, Kobe-related merchandise sales are up more than 100 percent this year and in the last 30 days, sales increased by 500 percent.

It is a bit mystifying that die-hard Kobe fans never bought his merchandise until his final days in the league. That said, Bryant's farewell tour has clearly created some new Kobe fans, who are sad to see him go and hoping that a jersey or T-shirt will help them cherish his Hall of Fame career.

Kobe Bryant loves his fans.
Kobe Bryant loves his fans. (USATSI)

CBS Sports Writer

Ananth Pandian has been writing about all NBA-related things including the social and lifestyle aspect of the sport for CBS Sports since 2015. His name is actually easy to pronounce, just remember it is... Full Bio

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