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


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.