LeBron James Beats Kobe Bryant in Tight Popularity Race

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Miami Heat star LeBron James is now the most popular player in the NBA after edging Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant by a close margin, according to a poll by ESPN.

James, who recently won his fourth MVP award and led the Heat to its second straight NBA title in June, collected 13 per cent (12.9) of votes, just 0.4 per cent ahead of Bryant (12.5) - the NBA's most favorite baller in five of the last six seasons.

The Heat star previously held the title when he won his first MVP award for the first time in 2008-2009, but his decision to join the Miami Heat cost him losing some of his fans.

James only got 10.2 per cent and 9.4 per cent in his first two seasons with Miami, but these numbers dramatically spiked up mainly because of the Heat's star play on the court.

LeBron has been so dominant over the last two seasons, winning two more MVP awards (four MVPs) and two world championships (including Finals MVP award).

Rounding out the top five of NBA's most popular player are Kevin Durant with 3.6 per cent, Derrick Rose with 2.8 per cent, and Dwyane Wade with 2.6 per cent.

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