by Sam Riches / sam_riches

Traditionally, when it comes to moving merchandise, the League’s big men have always been overshadowed by the flash and athleticism of the little guys. The sun rises in the East, sets in the West, and big guys can’t sell shoes. But despite this standard way of thinking, Disco Dirk has been named the most marketable player in the NBA.

From Yahoo! Sports:

Forget LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and their sponsorship deals; the NBA’s new most marketable player isn’t interested in truly cashing in on his fame.

Dirk Nowitzki has taken the crown as the most marketable man in pro basketball. The Mavericks star replaced Shaquille O’Neal, who retired.

Nowitzki, a 10-time NBA All-Star, has an N-Score of 132, a whopping 59 percent higher than Kobe Bryant’s 83.

The N-Score measures name and image awareness, appeal and personality attributes such as sincerity, approachability, experience and influence, both at the U.S. national and local levels.

Despite the Mavericks star’s popularity, without an agent or business manager, the pride of Wurzburg, Germany, doesn’t seem motivated in cashing in on his profit-making potential.

Nowitzki could be leaving a couple of million dollars on the table annually and maybe more, according to branding experts. He’s got a single endorsement deal with Nike.

‘I always wanted to be a basketball player. Nothing more. Nothing less,’ Nowitzki told Bloomberg. ‘I have never really considered myself to be a ‘brand.’ Sure there are a few things that I wouldn’t mind endorsing and maybe some day it will work out. For now, I am happy with where I am.’

Pretty remarkable stuff when you consider we’re amidst an era marked by athletes tirelessly attempting to build a brand and gain global recognition. It’s refreshing to see one of the most popular individuals in pro sports choosing to focus on improving his game rather than improving his bottom line. Plus he’s probably still really hungover.