No one in the current NBA is more famous than LeBron James and Stephen Curry; these two are the most marketable players in league history, they have been great ambassadors for the game, and they have had plenty of success in their careers, combining for six MVP awards, eight championship rings, and five Finals MVPs.

The numbers show that their fame is evergreen. In the best-selling jerseys list posted by the official NBA Twitter (X) account, Curry's Golden State Warriors jerseys continue to fly off the shelf, as he ended the 2023-24 season with the most jerseys sold, while the Los Angeles Lakers star finished second. This merely shows that both Curry and James remain the faces of the league, and will continue to do so until the day they retire.

Some of the names fans would expect round out the top five, with Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo finishing third and fifth, respectively. But in the biggest development of them all, Victor Wembanyama has become an immediate fan favorite, as he finished fourth — above more established names such as Luka Doncic (sixth), Kevin Durant (eighth), Joel Embiid (12th), and Nikola Jokic (13th).

However, two rising superstars are noticeably absent from the top-15 in jersey sales. Even though the Oklahoma City Thunder finished with the one-seed in the Western Conference and the Minnesota Timberwolves have risen as one of the league's top two-way teams, the popularity levels of both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Anthony Edwards' popularity have not followed suit.

Nothing but a popularity contest

The list of best-selling jerseys, in no way, shape, or form indicates how well an individual performed in a particular season. Jersey sales are merely an indicator of how popular a player is, as evidenced by the fact that both Ja Morant and LaMelo Ball finished in the top-15 (11th and 14th, respectively) despite playing in a combined 31 games — a mark that both Anthony Edwards and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander reached in January.

But being the face of the NBA includes the factor of just how popular someone is. LeBron James and Stephen Curry have been at the top of their game for the longest time, with the two sharing the spotlight for the majority of the 2010s, and they have been responsible for converting millions of fans from casual enjoyers to diehard basketball supporters.

At the very least, league officials can be confident that the league will remain in a good place, marketability-wise, once James and Curry inevitably hang up their sneakers, especially when superstars of Edwards and Gilgeous-Alexander's caliber aren't making the top-15 of most jerseys sold.

Who will be the face of the NBA when LeBron James and Stephen Curry retire?

From the looks of it, Anthony Edwards and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will have to mount deep playoff runs and impress the world before they even gain consideration for being the next faces of the league. Even then, winning a championship is no guarantee of face of the league status. Nikola Jokic has become more popular as a result of his dominance, but he still finished 13th in jersey sales.

The following factors should determine who the next faces of the league will be: how entertaining their playstyles are, how much team success they can achieve, how charismatic their personalities are, and how big of a market the team they're playing for reside in.

With those factors in mind, the easy candidates to take up face of the league status once LeBron James and Stephen Curry retire are Jayson Tatum (team success, marketable team), Victor Wembanyama (unique playstyle, must-see entertainment value), Luka Doncic (individual dominance, potential team success), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (inspirational personality, team success, individual brilliance).