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Results: 1. Kobe Bryant (21.2 percent), 2. LeBron James (15.2 percent), T3. Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki (12.1 percent), T5. Kevin Garnett and Chris Paul (9.1 percent)
Others receiving votes: Carmelo Anthony, Vince Carter, Tim Duncan, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade
You'd think the rookies would've given LeBron James the nod. After all, he's claimed the NBA "treble" (championship, MVP, NBA Finals MVP) in each of the last two seasons. On top of that, the 2012 draft class picked James as the favorite with nearly a third of the total vote.
But, demographically speaking, the Black Mamba's return to the top (he was the most popular pick in 2010) makes more sense.
Remember, rookies typically range anywhere between the ages of 19 and 23, with occasional outliers (i.e. Bernard James getting drafted at 27 in 2012). That means that the vast majority of this year's incoming class fell into the six-to-10-year-old range when the Los Angeles Lakers of the Kobe-Shaquille O'Neal vintage began their three-peat in the spring of 2000.
Six-to-10 is a rather impressionable age for kids, especially when it comes to sports. According to the Mayo Clinic, kids in the 10-to-12-year-old range are best suited to start playing a complex sport like basketball, though chances are the ones who make it to the pros start much younger than that.
That being said, Bryant should be more popular among the incoming generation of prospects. Kobe's been more relevant as a champion and all-around great player for a longer period of time than LeBron. As such, he's likely been a hero to many more future studs than King James.
That figures to change in the years to come, assuming LeBron continues to win titles and dominate the NBA.
For now, though, Kobe—torn Achilles or no—remains the crowd favorite.