KLAY THOMPSON (Terjada/USA Today Sports)

Old Cougar Klay Thompson is becoming a national brand force

LeBRON JAMES and Steph Curry may be the faces of the NBA, but when it comes to selling jerseys, there's a skyrocketing new name on the list: Klay Thompson.

The Warriors sharpshooter and Washington State legend, who is gunning for his second-straight NBA title ring, is really starting to click with apparel-buying sports fans, according to ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell.

He tweeted Thursday that Thompson merchandise sales are up 350 percent over last year, marking the largest spike among all NBA players. He cites Fanatics.com as the source.  Fanatics bills itself as the world's largest seller of official fan gear from all leagues and teams.

Thompson's popularity also extends to late-night television. Jimmy Kimmel this week ran a spoof in which Thompson, Curry and other NBA stars read  "Mean Tweets" about themselves. Here's a summary and video of the hilarity, courtesy of Rolling Stone.

The San Francisco Chronicle saluted Thompson in a column this week, noting that Curry gets all the cover photos and Twitter love -- despite the fact Thompson virtually willed the team to a dramatic series comeback over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals -- Thompson could care less.

"A lesser man might succumb to Jan Brady," writes Al Saracenic, “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” is "not Klay’s style. He’s a cool cat who doesn’t let anyone see him sweat."

Meanwhile, newly retired NBA legend had some high praise for Thompson and Curry this week, telling Sports Illustrated the two Splash Brothers are "stone-cold killers man."

“They don’t care about what you think of them, they don't care about if they make a game winning shot or if they miss it, they're out there to do their job," Bryant said. "And they have a very strong sense of the killer instinct.”

The Warriors took a 1-0 lead Thursday night in their NBA Championship series with Cleveland and will be back in action Sunday at 5 p.m. PT.

RELATED STORY: THOMPSON IS THIRD COUG TO PLAY IN BACK-TO-BACK NBA TITLE SERIES'


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