LeBron James, Simone Biles, Tom Brady Top List of 2021's Most Tweeted About AthletesDecember 9, 2021
The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James and Team USA gymnast Simone Biles topped the lists of the most talked about athletes on Twitter in 2021.
Front Office Sports provided the top five male and female athletes from the social media outlet's "#OnlyOnTwitter" announcement Thursday:
The fact that James stood atop the list after a relatively mundane year on the court—the Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round to end their 2020 championship defense—showcases his power as one of the world's most influential athletes.
James' willingness to take a stand on social justice causes has frequently landed him in the spotlight just as much as his Hall of Fame basketball career in recent years.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady's switch from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't stop him from capturing his record-extending seventh championship as a player in February when the Bucs took down the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
The Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving and Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers both became the focus of Twitter debates in recent months because of their stances on the COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition, Kobe Bryant's lasting legacy following his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash remained on full display by his posthumously making the top five on the men's side.
Biles drew praise for helping lead the conversation about mental health after she decided to take a break from competition during the Tokyo Olympics this summer. She returned before the end of the Games to win a bronze medal in the finals on the balance beam.
She was named Time magazine's 2021 Athlete of the Year earlier Thursday.
"I was torn because things weren't going the way I wanted," Biles told Time about her personal decisions in Tokyo. "But looking back, I wouldn't change it for anything."
Naomi Osaka also took a mental health break during the 2021 WTA Tour tennis season and urged people to remain sympathetic to others.
She wrote for Time in July:
"I feel uncomfortable being the spokesperson or face of athlete mental health as it's still so new to me and I don't have all the answers. I do hope that people can relate and understand it's O.K. to not be O.K., and it's O.K. to talk about it. There are people who can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel."
Serena Williams, like James, is one of the greatest athletes in history and always attracts attention regardless of her on-court performance. She'll enter 2022 one Grand Slam title behind Margaret Court for the all-time singles record of 24.
Finally, a pair of WWE Superstars cracked the list in Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks, who faced off in a memorable match at WrestleMania 37. Belair won the hyped encounter to become the new SmackDown women's champion.