Feb 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Eastern Conference forward LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat and Western Conference guard Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers laugh during the second half of the 2013 NBA All-Star Game at the Toyota Center. The Western Conference won 143-138. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James passes Kobe Bryant as most popular NBA player


At one time, LeBron James was the most popular player in the league – even surpassing the lofty Kobe Bryant. However, “The Decision” debacle all but squashed that popularity and the former Cleveland Cavaliers talent became somewhat of a despised figure by many after he took his talents to South Beach.

Now a few years removed from his jolting free agent decision, James is back on top as an ESPN poll suggests the NBA superstar has once again surpassed Bryant as the NBA’s most popular player.

Per ESPN:

For the first time in four years, the Miami Heat forward is the most popular player in the NBA, according to the latest ESPN Sports Poll.

Nearly 13 percent (12.9) of NBA fans said James was their favorite player this season, allowing him to best Kobe Bryant (12.5) for the first time since the 2008-09 season. That was the only other season when James passed the Los Angeles Lakers star, the top pick by fans for five of six years from 2006-07 to 2011-12.

The Worldwide Leader suggested that nearly 16% of people said that James was their favorite player during his last season in Cleveland, a number that slipped to 10% and 9% during James’ first two seasons in Miami. However, two NBA Championships later and James appears to have worked his way back into the public’s good graces.

Tags: Kobe Bryant Lebron James Los Angeles Lakers Miami Heat