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LeBron’s popularity at an all-time low

Jul 9, 2011, 5:00 PM EDT

LeBron James AP

They say it’s better to be feared than loved. Maybe the modern sports equivalent is “it’s more profitable to be hated than loved. ”

Because even as LeBron James‘ global brand is expanding to collegiate teams who have Final Four spots penciled in (plus Miami), as his jersey is tops in the world, as his financial intake is the highest it has ever been, his popularity is the lowest it could possibly be. From CNBC’s Darren Rovell:

In a poll taken just days after the decision (7/11/10), James’ appeal dropped by more 11 percent, his endorsement appeal by two percentage percent and trust plummeted by more than three percent. DBI took eight more polls of the public and how they felt about James.

James’ appeal had climbed back up somewhat to almost 63 percent by May 24, 2011, his endorsement was holding steady and his trust was showing improvement.

But all that plummeted when the poll was taken after the Finals. James was criticized for not showing up in the fourth quarter and for looking down on people who criticized him. DBI’s poll taken on June 19, shows that LeBron’s appeal was at the lowest it has ever been (57%) and that his trust was hovering at all-time lows (48.87 percent).

It’s debatable as to whether this has hurt LeBron’s business. Nike  said last month it sold more than 500,000 pairs of his signature shoes this past year and he was, after all, the NBA’s most popular jersey.

via A Year Later, Polls Show LeBron Still Hasn’t Recovered – CNBC.

So this just confirms what was pretty apparent from fan, media, and league reaction to James this season and during the Finals: everyone hates the guy outside of South Beach. He’s arrogant. Okay, so what? So is everyone in the NBA and for sure nearly every superstar. He’s brazen. This in a league filled with Kobe’s jaw-jut, KG’s incessant screaming, Durant and Co.’s constant pom-pom parade after every made three, and Derrick Rose‘s preseason MVP proclamation. He’s constant in his exposure… much like Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, or Dwyane Wade on television. He betrayed the team that drafted him… by leaving in free agency which he had every right to do. He did it in a disgusting way… again, brazen. So what is it? And why hasn’t it affected his bottom line?

The reality is that James is more famous than popular. He’s not loved. He’s not feared. He’s just observed. His attention is constant, even if it’s mostly negative. And for whatever reason, companies are still flocking to him as a symbol of what they want to represent. He’s not winning titles. He’s not the people’s champion.

But he’s getting his empire, one way or another.

  1. edmazeing1 - Jul 9, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    give LBJ Little credit for raiseing $3 million for the boys & girls club, but All he has to do is score over 70 points in a game or enter the slam dunk contest & alot of fans will be back in his corner!!!

    • edweird0 - Jul 9, 2011 at 6:45 PM

      Idk why you get downvoted so many times for this. In essence what you’re saying is true. If he improves his game tremendously and does more things out there that aren’t endorsement related than the AVERAGE fan will forgive him. Of course there will still be those diehard ppl who hate him, but what can you do…

    • philtration - Jul 9, 2011 at 9:54 PM

      70 points in a game or enter the slam dunk contest?
      That kind of stuff is impressive… if you are 17 years old.

      • jkmanning18 - Jul 10, 2011 at 10:46 AM

        idk what u guys are talking about. What popularity???

  2. boondocksaint224 - Jul 9, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    Moore, this is poor reporting at best, irresponsible is probably a better label for it. “Derrick Rose’s preseason MVP proclamation”? How in the hell do you get that from him answering a question about him taking that kind of a jump with “Why not? Why can’t I be the MVP of the league?” I don’t EVER recall him saying “I’m going to win the MVP award this year”, becaust THAT’S a proclamation.


    • edweird0 - Jul 9, 2011 at 6:31 PM

      Yea this is a pretty blatant attempt at just trying to create some traffic by invoking the name of the “hated one” lol.

  3. thegonz13 - Jul 9, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    He’s gonna be takin’ his talents all the way to the bank and not give a rodent’s rear end about anything!

  4. dirtybird2020 - Jul 9, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Lbj blows! They still need jordan to win a ring! Hahaha, i dont feel bad for him! Give him some credit, ill give him some credit when he mans the f up and carrys a team that dont have wade on it! Lbj fans are crap too, miami looks nice on tv, but in reality it looks like the last dump i took! You people baby this queer who cant do nothing for his self, can u blame the guy he didnt even get a education, let that prick play over seas thensport is better off without him!

    • georgeanderson2 - Jul 10, 2011 at 10:08 AM

      You might not like the guy because how select media outlets have portrayed him and that is your source to develop an opinion, but the guy can play and brings somethng special to he court. The Heat team is entertaining to watch, hence highest ratings in years for the NBA.

  5. kilo0986 - Jul 9, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    Don’t worry lebron, Kurt Helin is always there if you need to talk someone or want that late night booty call. Eh but who am I, I’m just someone who’s broke and whos life sucks

  6. goforthanddie - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    “He’s not feared.”
    Kobe is.

    • edweird0 - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:13 PM

      Who said he was feared?

      • goforthanddie - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:23 PM

        His 5 rings.

      • edweird0 - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:50 PM

        What? That makes no sense….

      • goforthanddie - Jul 10, 2011 at 12:43 AM

        You seem to be the only one that doesn’t get it.

      • david8726 - Jul 10, 2011 at 9:34 PM

        Kobe isn’t feared by other players who are as great as him.

        Were the Celtics scared of Kobe when they bounced him in 2008 and almost did it again in 2010? No.

        Is Wade scared of him when he goes one on one against the guy and comes out on top sometimes? No.

        Do you think Kevin Durant was scared of Kobe when he took the challenge to guard him in this years playoffs? No.

        Kobe isn’t the only player in the league with his kind of will power and desire to win.

    • goforthanddie - Jul 10, 2011 at 11:25 PM

      david8726: Kobe isn’t feared by other players who are as great as him.

      Exactly how long is that list of players?

      Also, that’s irrelevant. I was comparing Kobe/leb. Kobe has earned that level of respect, leb hasn’t.

    • kilo0986 - Jul 11, 2011 at 7:55 PM

      Durant never guarded kobe in this years playoffs dumb a$$, they didn’t even face each other lol

  7. david8726 - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    All LeBron has to do is win and all of this goes away.

    Like the polls said, he popularity was recovering quite nicely when he was ending Boston and Chicago’s season in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Things went south again for him when he failed in the finals.

    If he comes out, leads the Heat to the best record in the NBA, and wins the title, his popularity will climb again.

    • edweird0 - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:14 PM

      Yup, I couldnt agree more. For the average fan, they just wanna see him live up to his potential and be a great basketball player.

    • theghostofwillisreed - Jul 9, 2011 at 9:18 PM

      and therein lies lebron’s quandary.

      he wins a title, it won’t be enough. he will need four more to be put on kobe’s level and one more to be on #23’s. the problem for lebron is that michael never lost, lebron has lost twice already.

      never mind the fact that if/when lebron wins, guess who else does? wade. if the heat start winning titles, lebron will be helping wade create a larger legacy for himself and lebron will always be one short.

      therein lies the rub of lebron taking his talents to south beach. even if he wins, he will fall short.

      • goforthanddie - Jul 10, 2011 at 12:58 AM

        Didn’t he promise multiple titles? He’s already falling behind schedule.

    • philtration - Jul 9, 2011 at 10:04 PM

      But then he vanished in the Finals, mocked another player who was ill, stormed off the court after losing the last game, insulted just about every person in the world by saying “I am rich and you are not” and then tops it off by knocking some kid on his ass and celebrating it.
      All of that happened AFTER “The Decision”, his whining during the regular season, his bumping his own coach and throwing him under the bus and his stupid comments about karma aimed at the Cavs.

      LeBron has spent the last year acting like a jag off and he deserves his bad image.

  8. diablito0402 - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Well well well, even his brand and popularity is choking, amaizing.

  9. diablito0402 - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    Stop putting this clown on these blogs, its seems everyone has a green light on bashing this guy, i dont like him but please, give him and us a break.

  10. delius1967 - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    Notice the name that you don’t see in that list of chest-thumping morons: the most recent Finals MVP, and a genuine role model for aspiring athletes everywhere, Dirk Nowitzki. Writers moan and complain about the lack of grace and class amongst the best players, but who are you writing about, again?

  11. mikeinthevine - Jul 9, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    He won’t win cause he’s a quitter and a choke artist. Champions want the ball when the game’s on the line. LeQuit wants to run and hide.

    • david8726 - Jul 9, 2011 at 9:22 PM

      You were probably one of those guys writing stuff like this about Dirk after he failed in 2006 and 2007.

      Talent almost always wins eventually. LeBron is only 26. The chances of him never winning a title are somewhere in the neighborhood of slim and none.

      • boondocksaint224 - Jul 10, 2011 at 1:44 AM

        “LeBron is only 26. The chances of him never winning a title are somewhere in the neighborhood of slim and none.”

        You might want to consider telling that to Stockton, Malone, Barkley, Ewing, Maravich, Nash, Iverson and Miller.

      • icu84bs - Jul 10, 2011 at 7:36 PM

        @boondocksaint224 :

        Um, MJ did not win the title until he was at least 26 years old. There is time. Cheers.

      • david8726 - Jul 10, 2011 at 9:26 PM


        I didn’t say that talent always wins. I said it usually wins – especially talent of LeBron’s magnitude.

        Let’s put it this way, if you had to place 1000 dollars on if LeBron would win a title or not, there is no way you’d bet that he’d never win. The odds that he will succeed at some point are overwhelming.

      • almzor - Jul 13, 2011 at 10:55 AM

        “The odds that he will succeed at some point are overwhelming.”

        Until the owners get the hard cap they want in the next CB and Miami has to use their amnesty clause on one of the big three so they can afford to actually fill out their team.

        Then Riley has to decide whether Lebron or Bosh better compliments Wade and cut the other one. The answer is easy, Wade and Bosh would > Wade and Lebron; but Lebron’s the cash cow.

        So the Heat cut their interior option (both Wade and Lebron have the impression that they’re 70% three point shooters and don’t need a post game) and the team becomes even more one dimensional offensively than they were last season. Lebron becomes increasingly frustrated and uses his opt-out to find some other team to chase titles with.

        Since he’s so talented someone will still roll the dice with him on the far side of 30, and who knows maybe he does get that championship. But don’t act like its a forgone conclusion that he’ll do it. Players with better work ethic than him and talent to spare came up empty before he came along.

  12. royistheboy - Jul 9, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    If Kurt Helin wrote this article LeBron’s popularity would immediately drop 50%

  13. jimeejohnson - Jul 9, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    At least he got the heck out of…! Just kidding.

  14. 00maltliquor - Jul 10, 2011 at 1:10 AM

    I just love the fact all PBT has to do is put the name LEBRON in the title of thier post and instantly you get more traffic then L.A. freeways @ 5pm. Genious!

    • david8726 - Jul 10, 2011 at 9:31 PM

      And guess what? You clicked on it and commented on it.

      If you don’t like the LeBron posts, don’t click on them.

  15. diablito0402 - Jul 10, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    Good stuff, but remember all these guys on the list above didnt leave their hometown teams for a star studed team to hide behind a better star ( wade) to win championships with the exception of barkley and malone at the very very end of their careers.

  16. jthammerstix - Jul 10, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Lebron is all balls. 8D

  17. cur86 - Jul 10, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    Je’s a BUM! I won’t buy ANY products associated with either he or that scumbag golfer Eldrick the creep either! NOTHING with a “swoosh” is coming through either my front or my back door anytime soon!!!

  18. diablito0402 - Jul 10, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Your right about the ratings, but you are wrong, most people out of florida watch him and want him to fail because of his arrogance, and his ability to choke on the most important times in games..he portraits himself as he is , a total spoiled diva who hasnt earned anything, like the title of best player in the league, he aint done crap to even be close to that.

  19. diablito0402 - Jul 10, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    Wheres my friend southbeachtalent to defend his newly adopted son, because he probably hated him when he was in cleveland :)

    • southbeachtalent - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:04 AM

      Laughing at loud at all these ridiculous posts. It’s quite entertaining!

      Nah, never hated the guy. Always enjoyed watching him play in Cleveland. I have never hated an athlete (someone I don’t really know) my whole life. I find these posts of LeChoke, and LeBum hilarious. Eventually he will win, but it wont be enough anyway. Just keep buying his shoes and jersey’s he will be laughing all the way to the bank.

  20. mannyicey - Jul 10, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Even if Lebron wins 5 rings, he will never be seen as on the same level as Kobe, let alone Michael Jordan.

    Why? Because Kobe won a ring with the Lakers when the Lakers were HIS team. I mean, that’s why Kobe wanted to get rid of Shaq; because even though they won rings together, he wanted to win at least one on a team that was his own- not Shaq’s, or shared with Shaq. So Kobe wanted Shaq to get out of town.

    Now Shaq won a ring with the Heat, but that team was Shaq’s team. Dwayne Wade was a youngster that was just coming up, and Shaq was the draw.

    Jordan? The Chicago Bulls is STILL Jordan’s team.

    What Lebron James needed to do was win a ring in Cleveland. Or New York. I mean, if Lebron James would have won a ring in Cleveland, his name would have been second to Jordan. And if he would have won multiple rings in Cleveland, he probably would have beaten Jordan in popularity and stats.

    Here’s the bottom line: I live in Atlanta, so I can care less, but I think that Lebron needed Cleveland as much as Cleveland needed Lebron. I think that he should have stayed there, live on his endorsements and get people to want to join the team.

    • david8726 - Jul 10, 2011 at 9:30 PM

      As a Heat fan, I can say that you’re slightly off base about your analysis of that 2006 Heat team.

      Shaq was considered the “leader” of that Heat during the regular season, but Wade was the clear cut best player in the playoffs. Once the finals started, Shaq took a complete back seat to Wade. Wade became the alpha male.

      Heck, Zo actually outplayed shaq in some of those finals games against Dallas.

      • southbeachtalent - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:07 AM

        Agree 100%, Zo was blocking everything and anything in the paint. Shaq got us there and Wade closed it out. Shaq has said that multiple times.

  21. diablito0402 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    Hahaha you guys say nobody is scared of kobe…… I gurantee nobody is scared of lechoke,,, specially in the playoffs. Kobe scored 81 points in one game people, thats talent to be scared of.

    • goforthanddie - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:43 AM

      I’m sure leb could get 81 in a game. He just can’t step up when it matters.

      • southbeachtalent - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:08 AM

        And take 60% of the teams shots! LOL

  22. diablito0402 - Jul 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    He cant catch fire like kobe, i remember kobe having 60+ points at the end of the 3d quarter 3different times and got sat down the 4th quarters, imagine…. I dont think lebrick has gotten to the 50 point mark many times. And he wont in miami because of wade

    • southbeachtalent - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:13 AM

      No one is disputing that LeBron is better than Kobe, atleast no one that I know? Kobe has proven to be a killer when it counts and has multiple championships to prove it. What’s your argument? That LeBron wont score 50 in a game? I’m sure he will eventually as a Heat player, but it wont matter. He needs to get rings! Hell Chamberlin scored 101 pts, but I dont think he was a better player than Jordan. At the end its all about the rings, that’s why Kobe is feraed and respected. Not cause he scored 81 pts in a game?

  23. bobthis - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    Can we please stop saying that the “Decision” changed the NBA? It didn’t even change the Miami Heat. Also stop saying that people don’t like Lebron because he’s a “Successful young African American”. Playing the cry baby race card won’t work here because jerks come in all different colors.

    • southbeachtalent - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      Oh it definately changed the NBA. First it was something that had never been done before, a superstar changing teams in his PRIME, a nationally televised decision, and in turn a team hated by the whole country. From one minute to the next the Heat (a rather obscure team) became everyone’s target and everyone’s enemy. Every fan, player and newscaster scrutinizing every comment, every play, every game. Every loss magnified X10000. TV ratings broke records all season long. Hell even this years weak draft set a record for ratings.

      So yes the decision did change the NBA. And I didn’t even get into how copycat teams are being built. (Knicks, deron Williams forcing his way out etc…..)

      • bobthis - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:37 PM

        I guess you forgot about Wilt Kareem and Nash changing in the prime of their careers. How is the NBA any different?

  24. diablito0402 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    Good stuff southbeach, i dont hate lebron bron , he got inmense talent , just those people making excuses all the time about all the wrong and bad games he has, just see things as they are, mentally he is just not there yet,, you know its all fun in here.

    • southbeachtalent - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:10 PM

      He needs to mature mentally, he is a superb athlete but with no one behind the wheel its a disaster. I have never seen someone so polarizing in my whole life! You either hate LeBron or you love him, but no one in their right mind can dispute that he is one of the best. Those posts I read of how much he sucks are down right ridiculous and hilarious at the same time.

      Whats worse is that we may not see him win/fail this next season due to this lockout.. That truly sucks.. Hopefully the NFL can strike a deal this week!

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