Published on August 9, 2018 by Tyson Buchanan  

LeBron James is argued as one of if not the greatest basketball player of all time next to people such as MJ, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, or even Magic Johnson. But people have never stopped to think about this looming question: Is LeBron James the most popular basketball player of all time?

Webster’s Dictionary defines popularity as, “the state or condition of being liked, admired, or supported by many people. Fans determine likeliness by how much their team (or favorite player) is liked or wanted around the nation and how many people would say they are their favorite (teams or players).

Basketball (NBA): % of All Fans Ranking Team as Favorite/Overall Rank
Team 2013 2015 2016 2017

Cleveland Cavaliers





Miami Heat





LeBron’s final year with the Miami Heat was in 2013 when satisfied fans ranked them as their second favorite team in the league. From then on, they have been on a slow decline in people supporting their franchise because last year they were ranked as tenth highest in fans saying that they were their favorite. Now, this could not all be credited to James leaving the Heat; you could say that it was because Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh began to fall off later in their careers. The Cleveland Cavaliers had 1.7 percent of people saying they were their favorite, which ranked tied for fifteenth in LeBron’s final year in Miami. The Cavs then jumped to the fourth most liked team in 2015 and followed that up with fourth in 2016 and third in 2017 in fans listing them as their favorite team. The credit goes to Lebron James.

LeBron James is an even bigger star today because we live in the social media era where people can research anything that is happening in seconds. If you turn your TV on to any sports channel at any part of the day you would see somebody saying something about LeBron no matter if it is an argument or statement, he is always somewhere to be found. ESPN releases a “World Fame 100” list every year, and LeBron James found himself number one in America and number two overall (second to only Cristiano Ronaldo). ESPN also called him “the most powerful voice in his profession.” Tom Ziller, a writer for SB Nation, wrote that we are living “in the decade of LeBron James” (@teamziller).

LeBron is so much more than just an athlete; he gives a voice to everyone who does not have a stage to do so.  He has started his barbershop talk series where he will bring different athletes on the show, and they will talk about their lives and the various matters going on in America today. He also opened up a middle school yesterday in his hometown, Akron, Ohio, which is giving children a chance to go to school and get an education for free.

LeBron has been compared with Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time, but that is only on the court. Jordan is known nowadays for his brand, but LeBron has proved that he is much more than just a brand. LeBron holds and uses a vastly large platform to as a leader in matters of social justice and philanthropic enterprise. Particularly, James persevered through a movement that encouraged athletes, specifically basketball players, to shut up and dribble. He rightfully dismissed this notion as nonsense and continues to speak out for what he believes to be unjust. His actions on and off the court have lead to his rise as the most popular basketball player of all time.

About the Author

This blog post was written by Samford University student Tyson Buchanan. You can learn more about Tyson Buchanan at

Works Cited