Popularity of NBA Players according to Google

28 Dec

Latest surveys revealed that Kris Humphries shouldn’t be the advocate for long marriages or that you shouldn’t leave long-term relationship if you want to be liked by the public… OK, frankly I don’t know what was the point of this research [advertisement?] but it did raise a couple interesting questions for me:
who is the most known NBA player? Who is the most obscure one? How can we measure it?
Jersey sales could only work if it weren’t for huge differences in market sizes and for obvious reasons I’m not gonna ask a lot of random people so I focused on a well-known but rarely used number: Google search results.

Please don’t confuse it with a serious research, as far as I know even Google admit those are only estimates and they are not reliable but I was curious anyway. Also it may be a sign I use google too often but what the hell, I can’t be afraid to take chances like that, otherwise this blog will be more useless than it is now.

So today based on rosters from ESPN I entered phrase “NBA [Player’s Name] [Player’s Surname]” 377 times.
I included all rotation players but I ignored most guys on non-guaranteed contracts or camp invitees or guys whom even I didn’t know and I threw-in a couple of legends for a comparison sake.
Here is the list for Top40 and Bottom40 Google Search Results

Top40 Players Team Google Results Bottom40 Players Team Google Results
LeBron James MIA 247 000 000 Luke Babbitt POR 86 400
Magic Johnson HoF 139 000 000 Greg Stiemsma BOS 115 000
Chris Paul LAC 129 000 000 Samardo Samuels CLE 140 000
Michael Jordan HoF 119 000 000 Sundiata Gaines NJN 143 000
Josh Smith ATL 98 100 000 Tobias Harris MIL 147 000
David Lee GSW 82 200 000 Hassan Whiteside SAC 155 000
Kobe Bryant LAL 76 100 000 Christian Eyenga CLE 158 000
Deron Williams NJN 74 000 000 Marshon Brooks NJN 175 000
John Wall WAS 71 800 000 Damion James NJN 179 000
David West IND 59 500 000 Jeremy Pargo MEM 190 000
Jose Calderon TOR 57 200 000 E’Twaun Moore BOS 192 000
Kevin Love MIN 50 800 000 DeMarre Carroll DEN 199 000
Joe Johnson ATL 47 300 000 Alec Burks UTA 202 000
Derrick Rose CHI 43 400 000 Jeff Pendergraph IND 221 000
Blake Griffin LAC 42 600 000 Chris Singleton WAS 225 000
Dwight Howard ORL 42 100 000 Kenneth Faried DEN 226 000
Paul George IND 40 600 000 Quincy Pondexter MEM 230 000
Shaquille O’Neal HoF 36 600 000 Donte Greene SAC 238 000
Kevin Durant OKC 31 600 000 JaJuan Johnson BOS 239 000
Paul Pierce BOS 31 500 000 Charles Jenkins GSW 243 000
Dwyane Wade MIA 30 800 000 Wayne Ellington MIN 249 000
Kevin Martin HOU 29 700 000 Gary Forbes TOR 252 000
Amare Stoudemire NYK 28 600 000 Ryan Hollins CLE 253 000
Carmelo Anthony NYK 28 100 000 Damien Wilkins DET 254 000
Pau Gasol LAL 26 400 000 Tony Battie PHI 257 000
Dominique Jones DAL 25 500 000 Renaldo Balkman NYK 262 000
Nick Young WAS 24 400 000 Dexter Pittman MIA 263 000
Ray Allen BOS 24 000 000 Jon Brockman MIL 266 000
Kevin Garnett BOS 22 400 000 Jannero Pargo ATL 268 000
Louis Williams PHI 22 100 000 Brandan Wright DAL 269 000
Kris Humphries NJN 21 600 000 Andrew Goudelock LAL 273 000
Lamar Odom DAL 19 000 000 Jamaal Tinsley UTA 283 000
Sean Williams DAL 18 400 000 Alonzo Gee CLE 290 000
Dirk Nowitzki DAL 17 400 000 Kevin Seraphin WAS 298 000
Josh Howard UTA 16 400 000 Klay Thompson GSW 300 000
Mike Miller MIA 16 200 000 Eric Maynor OKC 317 000
Marcus Thornton SAC 15 100 000 Anthony Tolliver MIN 325 000
George Hill IND 13 100 000 Greivis Vasquez NOH 327 000
Stephen Jackson MIL 12 100 000 Ekpe Udoh GSW 334 000
Ryan Anderson ORL 11 400 000 Austin Daye DET 340 000

Well, LeBron is clearly better at something than Michael Jordan so it was worth it ;-)
He actually may be the most polarizing NBA player in history, right?

Some additional notes:
– it seems that common surnames really skew those ratings,
– I have no idea what’s going on with players like Calderon or Marcus Thornton,
– for such a non-scientific approach there are many superstars here…
– are those results location-related? I used not a local affiliation with settings “any time” and “everywhere” but I wonder how does it look in your browser?
EDIT: Thanks to a tweet from EvanZ it’s obvious that google results do work differently in the US vs outside it. It could be interesting to compare full lists from different sources but… well, someone else would have to do it.

On the other hand we have a lot of young bench guys with very uncommon names but
the only player below 100 000 results was Luke Babbitt so he should become our obscurity king ;-)

Finally, if we calculate those results for each team the most popular teams would be [in that order]
and the least popular would be NOH, CLE, DEN, POR, MIL, PHO, DET, MEM, UTA, SAS, SAC, CHA.

Again I wouldn’t take it seriously but it did surprisingly good job, didn’t it?


Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Expanding Horizons


Tags: , , , ,

3 responses to “Popularity of NBA Players according to Google

  1. Anonymous

    December 30, 2011 at 01:07

    First off I wanted to say you have a great blog and talk about some very interesting topics, keep up the good work!

    Secondly this is interesting as things like google trending, twitter, facebook etc clearly have a big impact on brand value and can be worth a lot of money to companies/marketers.

    Did you hear about the riots in the US when the new Jordan shoes went on sale? I doubt that would happen to any other NBA player, so it shows how much the Jordan brand still means to people even though he has not played for over 10 years.

    Also another thought that crossed my mind but would be harder to work out would be foreign markets such as China. Surely Yao Ming would be the most popular NBA player in the world due to the hundreds of millions of NBA fans in China. Case in point how he would always win an All Star starting position even if he was hurt and had not played, due to all the votes he received from China.

    I wonder if someone like Stephon Marbury who is playing in China and has marketed cheaper shoes/apparel to a broarder audience would have more of an impact in real terms than some of the other top stars in this list like say Magic Johnson, who I doubt most NBA fans in China have heard of.

    • wiLQ

      December 30, 2011 at 02:32

      1) Thanks,
      2) They are interesting but unfortunately not easily available to the public,
      3) I heard about the riot but IMHO it’s a marketing move. Also Jordan became a brand on it’s own, I wonder does every 10-year old know anything about him as a player?
      4) I agree that foreign markets is a great angle to take but how can I measure anything about it?

  2. Anonymous

    December 31, 2011 at 08:19

    4. I have no idea, it’s hard to say how having a million people in China owning a players jersey reflects the popularity of the player or his awareness in the mainstream NBA. What really dictates who is “popular” is the NBA itself, the team and the networks that broadcast games as they put the star players on television for people to see around the world.

    Lebron James for example is probably worth 10 times what he is paid to Miami and the league, if not more. Compare that to a rookie on a nice deal who comes in and plays a role on a team (random example Tyler Hansbrough). Hansbrough probably makes a couple of million dollars, which is peanuts for what he can do (10 and 10 when starting).

    But no-one in the mainstream is going to mention how valuable he is to the Pacers, and no-one outside of Indiana is going to buy his jersey. Yet he fills a role as a backup PF and C, plays defense and works the boards like a madman. That’s the type of value any team would love to have but he is never going to appear in the top jersey sales anytime soon.


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