Jul 21, 2010, 9:40 AM EDT
Five years ago, Kobe Bryant may have been America’s most loathed athlete. Calling his career as an endorser “washed up” would have been about the nicest way of putting things one could have.
Now, he is America’s most popular athlete.
According to a poll by Harris Interactive, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods are tied as the most popular athletes in America. Tiger had held that spot by himself since 2006 but worked tirelessly to screw up his popularity in the past 12 months. Job well done there, sir.
Kobe was mighty unpopular himself a few years back. But he embraced the polarizing nature of his personality — love me or hate me, but you will respect my game. Marketing him became more about marketing his will and drive than his personality. And eventually that evolved because people did start to respect him then like him again. He leads the league in jersey sales, his popularity is global.
Oh, and he started winning. Wining still cures all ills in America.
By the way, Derek Jeter was third (likely just the votes of his ex-girlfriends could have gotten him here), Brett Favre was fourth, Payton Manning fifth, LeBron James sixth (the poll was taken before “the Decision”) and Michael Jordan was seventh.
- James Harden and Dwight Howard show Mavericks what they’re missing in Rockets’ Game 1 win 9
- Derrick Rose looks like his old self as Bulls beat Bucks in Game 1 17
- Warriors strong enough to outlast Anthony Davis and Pelicans in Game 1 7
- Paul Pierce leads Wizards to overtime Game 1 win over Raptors 6
- Q&A: Corey Brewer on trade from Timberwolves, his 51-point game, Harden’s MVP case, Rockets vs. Mavericks 3
- PBT First Round Playoff Previews: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs 10
- Why the 2015 NBA playoffs feel wide open – but probably shouldn’t 6
- PBT Extra: Houston, Dallas simply do not like each other 3