Since he became the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, 76ers rookie Ben Simmons has fans in Philadelphia and around the globe snatching up merchandise with his name on it, according to the largest online sports-apparel website.
Since draft night, Fanatics.com is reporting that in terms of merchandise sales, Simmons is the 10th-best seller among National Basketball Association players. He's the highest-selling Philadelphia athlete in all sports across the Fanatics platform of hundreds of e-commerce sites, which includes SixersShop.com - the Sixers' official team store.
Demand for Simmons merchandise helped SixersShop.com see a 76 percent spike in sales compared with July 2015, according to Fanatics.com.
The Australian cities Melbourne (where Simmons was born) and Sydney are among the top five cities globally for total sales of Simmons merchandise. Simmons' mother, Julie, is Australian and his father, Dave, who played professional basketball in Australia, is American.
Fanatics.com ranked the top 10 NBA player sales from June 23 to Aug. 31. In this order, they were: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Russell Westbrook, and Simmons.
Simmons, a forward who turned 20 in July, seems to have a universal appeal, said Chris Heck, chief sales and marketing officer for the Sixers.
"It's such a fascinating summer, to be frank, and it's not that we didn't expect the franchise to turn the corner," Heck said. "But we're seeing it. And we're seeing it beyond Ben Simmons. He is charismatic, intelligent, good-looking - and all of those things fit into how today's athletes are [viewed] in our pop culture, and Philadelphia is no exception."
Added Heck: "It's really an interesting time. There's a real appeal about having the No. 1 pick, particularly with the NBA, because it is a star's league.
"He's not a star yet, but I think people see the potential with Ben and will see the potential on the other faces of the franchise now, such as Joel Embiid and Dario Šaric.
"Our team has become very international," Heck said, with Embiid from Cameroon and Šaric from Croatia. "We have our share of young Americans, but also an influx of international players."