LeBron James Is The Most Hated Player In The NBA, According To Twitter


If there’s one thing we know about Twitter users, it’s that they have a lot of opinions.

And, in recent years, their tweets have taken on an increasingly negative tone. The trolls have won, and apparently they all have Twitter accounts.

Recently, the sports betting company BetOnline decided to measure how many negative tweets were posted over the last month about the most well-known basketball stars. Here are the full results:

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Notice who is at the top of the list?

It wasn’t a big surprise, especially if your favorite team has lost at the hands of this big league legend, whom some have called the best player in history.

LeBron James ranked at the top of the list with well over 100,000 negative tweets. One report noted how it might be tied to some recent negative press over the last year or two, although I suspect it has more to do with his success and dominance over other teams.

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Trailing far behind James with only about 35,000 negative tweets over the last month is Kevin Durant, followed by James Harden and Kyrie Irving. The top contenders for “most hated players” according to Twitter also happen to be some of the best players in the league. The one name that surprised me was Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors, ranked at number 12 on the list. He is often regarded as one of the most well-liked players.

As is typically the case, sentiment analysis is a flawed practice, an attempt to measure public opinion in a way that uses science but is really about analyzing emotions and opinions. We know there are negative tweets about these iconic players but we don’t really know why that is — e.g., whether the Twitter users are mentioning actual games or dissing on some of their antics off the court.

We also don’t know if the negative tweets are coming from Los Angeles Lakers fans or those from rival teams. In the NFL, a player like Tom Brady has a legion of fans and is widely considered the best quarterback in history, but he is also “despised” by all of the fans who cheer for opposing teams.

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Most of the “sentiment analysis” I’ve seen is usually a bit suspect. Whether it comes to football stars, actors, or business moguls, if the person in question is widely known, it means there are a lot of “sentiments” period, both good and bad.

Another issue with this type of ranking system is that we know negative tweets tend to get the most traction, according to research. While those tweeting about LeBron James might not be thinking about it, posting a negative comment often leads to more shares and likes. Over time, the typical Twitter user might slowly realize which tweets get the most attention and do more of those. Combine this concept of “negative tweets get attention” with a popular player and it explains a lot.

At the same time, over 100,000 negative tweets in a month is not a good sign. I can see how LeBron James may have earned a negative reputation, especially since he tends to have a larger-than-life personality and has become such a dominant force. He is known to celebrate his own court dominance more than he probably should.

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I have to say, I don’t think LeBron James deserves this type of “recognition” since the study isn’t all that scientific, even if you might agree with the results. Have an opinion yourself? Feel free to drop a line on my Twitter feed.





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