In one of the more laughable reports to have come out of the drudgery that is the NBA offseason, the Nielson Sports organization has come out with a thoroughly useless and seemingly arbitrary ranking of the NBA's Most Marketable Players.
Not only did they rank Dallas Mavericks forward and 2011 NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki at the very top spot (yes the #1 ranking above every other NBA player), they also declined to place Miami Heat superstars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in the top ten. Apparently, they've been working on this list for roughly 10 years because none other than Vince Carter is chosen instead to make the top ten list, despite the fact I don't recall him appearing in any national ad campaigns since he was playing with the Toronto Raptors all those years ago.
If I thought someone out there actually believed that Dirk was the most marketable player in the NBA, I'd explain my position on this but quite frankly the notion is so absurd that it's not even necessary.
Instead, let's look at the list:
|Top 10 Most Marketable NBA Players|
|1||Dirk Nowitzki||Dallas Mavericks||132|
|2||Kobe Bryant||Los Angeles Lakers||83|
|3||Steve Nash||Phoenix Suns||68|
|4||Kevin Garnett||Boston Celtics||65|
|5||Tim Duncan||San Antonio Spurs||51|
|6||Jason Kidd||Dallas Mavericks||47|
|7||Grant Hill||Phoenix Suns||41|
|8||Derrick Rose||Chicago Bulls||41|
|9||Pau Gasol||Los Angeles Lakers||40|
|10||Vince Carter||Phoenix Suns||38|
|Source: Nielsen / E-Poll N-Score|
Where do you even begin to break this down?
Kobe, Rose and Nash are solid picks but Garnett, Duncan, Hill and Carter? This is 2011, Nielson! Just how many people outside of Boston think Garnett, not exactly beloved by other teams' fanbases, is currently the fourth most marketable player in the NBA? Actually, I think people in Boston have more common sense than that.
Nielson claims to have polled 1,100 people aged 13 and up but I can't imagine them asking too many young people what their opinion was because the only player under the age of 30 and not pushing 40 is Derrick Rose (who is the heir to the throne of the NBA's most dull player once Duncan retires). Come to think of it, it seems like they asked a whole lot of Caucasians as well as residents of Phoenix what their opinions were as well.
It's also quite vague what the racial or gender breakdown of who was polled are so it's a huge question mark just how representative of the general population this really is. Nor are we privy to what the questions were asked. Were participants simply asked to list players they liked? Were they specifically asked what their opinion of certain players like LeBron were? Why again is Vince Carter on this list?
The N-Score measures name and image awareness, appeal and personality attributes such as sincerity, approachability, experience and influence, both at the U.S. national and local levels. “The extreme N-Score declines of LeBron and Dwyane Wade demonstrate that endorsement potential is about much more than consumer awareness,” said Stephen Master, VP, Nielsen Sports. “From endorsement superstars to being knocked off the top 10 list, they’ve learned the hard way the importance of public perception and appeal.”
Yes, these two superstars certainly learned the hard way of this "importance", while they were busy cashing more and more endorsement checks last year. I guess Nielson and their anonymous participants didn't hear about LeBron's Nike sales or his #1 NBA jersey or how he picked up new sponsors like Sheets energy strips this NBA season, the one in which many people apparently disliked him for not joining their team.
Speaking of forgetting things, it's remarkable how time can heal public perception of some athletes. Look at Kobe, my own pick for the #1 most marketable player, and how he destroyed his squeaky clean image with the Colorado "incident" back in 2003. All is forgiven now and besides, he didn't change teams! Then he would have been a real creep.