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Kobe slips from nation’s most popular athlete to No. 3

Jul 15, 2011, 10:10 AM EDT

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

What does it say about American sports fans that Kobe Bryant slipped out of the top spot in a poll of America’s favorite athletes and Derek Jeter replaced him on top of the list?

That’s what happened in the annual Harris Poll of the most famous athletes in America (via the Orange County Register).

What maybe the most amazing thing is that Kobe is tied at No. 3 with Michael Jordan. (Payton Manning is No. 2.) MJ is in the top 10 nearly a decade after he walked away from the game (more than a decade after he left the Bulls, for those of us still trying to erase the Wizards years from our minds). His staying power as a sports celebrity — and powerful marketing tool — is really astonishing.

The only other NBA player on the list was newly minted MVP Derrick Rose, who came in at No. 9 in what was his first year in the poll.

LeBron James had been No. 6 last year but fell out of the poll this year as he fell out of favor with many Americans.

According to the poll, Jordan is pushed into the top 10 by the “EchoBoom” crowd (ages 18-34) who have him as their overall favorite. Those were the people coming of age after the prime of Jordan’s career and know him more as the legend. For those of us looking for someone to blame for Jeter being on top of the list, it is the Baby Boomers (ages 46-65) as they ranked him as their favorite star.

  1. philtration - Jul 15, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Jordan is still the man.
    Watching some high lights on ESPN is not enough to understand how good he really was.
    If you were lucky enough to see him night after night, year after year then you know what he really was.

    I was fortunate to have seen him and Walter Payton play in person and old films do not do them justice.

  2. jkmanning18 - Jul 16, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    Really Kurt? If Peyton Manning is the second most popular athlete, how can you spell his name ‘Payton’??

  3. blackngold4life - Jul 16, 2011 at 4:53 PM


  4. tsi4431 - Jul 17, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    I admit Jordan was the best “of his time”. But he couldn’t play in the NBA today. All those offensive fouls that he pulled back in the late 80’s early 90’s wouldn’t fly now. He would be fouled out immediately.
    What I can’t understand is Jordan and Kobe have so many scandal’s going on, how are they still so well liked. Jordan having many more then Kobe of course.

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