For the last four years in the NBA, Kobe Bryant has been voted the league’s most popular player among fans. This doesn’t come as a surprise as the Lakers have one of the largest fan bases and Kobe has been one of the NBA’s best players for a decade and a half.
However, this past season LeBron James surpassed Bryant as the NBA’s most popular player by a slight margin, according to ESPN.
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 2008-2009 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.
This is the first year since the 2008-09 season that James edged out Bryant for the top spot, the first time the Kobe-Pau era brought the Larry O’Brian Trophy back to Los Angeles. James benefited from rises in votes from both the African American and younger demographics.
After James and Bryant, there is a significant drop off in voting. Kevin Durant was third in voting at 3.6 percent. After that, Derrick Rose (2.8 percent) and Dwyane Wade (2.6 percent), rounded out the top five.
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