When it comes to NBA players getting no love from fans, there is one clear lesson to be learned: Unless you are playing in a game, avoid going on TV.
Last year, LeBron James earned the dubious distinction for being the league's "most disliked player" in a Forbes.com poll. That was soon after his nationally televised "Decision" turned the masses against him. This year? Kris Humphries takes the crown. Yes, the same guy who decided it was not only a good idea to marry Kim Kardashian but also star in her reality TV show.
The marriage is over but apparently the PR damage still shadows Humphries, a Minnesota native who prior to his Kardashian link was relatively unknown in the league. Now? Well, in his first return to the court since the reality TV debacle, Humphries was booed every time he touched the ball by fans at Madison Square Garden.But there is a silver (perhaps, gold) lining for the guy - yesterday he inked a one-year, $8 million contract with the New Jersey Nets. Not bad for a despised power forward who probably wouldn't start on many teams.
As for LeBron, he was knocked down one spot to No. 2 on the 2011 "most disliked" list. Rounding out the top 10: Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker, Metta World Peace (the player previously known as Ron Artest), Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade and LaMar Odom.
As you can see from the Top 10, in addition to being on TV, a few other themes emerge when it comes to being reviled by NBA fans: With the exception of Pierce, the players were either involved in high-profile divorces, they recently changed teams (or names) or they play for the Evil Empire known as the Miami Heat.
According to Forbes.com, the results are based on surveys done by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, which tracks the public opinion of celebrities. To be eligible, players had to garner at least 10 percent awareness with the public.
Humphries probably eclipsed that 10 percent threshold by about 90 percent. As Nielsen Sports VP Stephen Master told Forbes.com: "He's been on five magazine covers, all in a negative light. It's all so recent, he's gotten all this publicity for something other than basketball talent."