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Stephen Curry Ranks as NBA’s Most-Liked Player Ahead of 2021-22 Season

The Golden State Warriors star topped Kevin Durant and LeBron James in a new survey

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors reacts during a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 6. Curry was rated as the most-liked NBA player by fans of the league in a recent Morning Consult poll. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors have missed the playoffs each of the last two NBA seasons, but that hasn’t stunted the popularity of the face of the franchise, Stephen Curry. According to a new Morning Consult poll, Curry is the most-liked player among NBA fans heading into Tuesday’s tipoff of the 2021-22 season.

Curry Is Most-Liked Player Among NBA Fans Heading Into 2021-22 Season

Self-identified NBA fans were asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of each of the following players. Players are ranked by net favorability

Net favorability is the share of fans with a favorable opinion minus the share with an unfavorable opinion.
Poll conducted Oct. 8-12, 2021, among 360-431 self-identified NBA fans per player, with a margin of error of +/-5%. Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

More on the numbers:

  • Curry earned a net favorability rating of 57 among self-identified NBA fans, a figure calculated by taking the 67 percent of fans who said they have a “very” or “somewhat” favorable opinion of the two-time MVP and subtracting the 10 percent of fans with an unfavorable opinion. Sportswear giant Under Armour Inc. last year placed a big bet on the Warriors star with the launch of the standalone Curry Brand.
  • Kevin Durant (49 points) of the Brooklyn Nets and third-ranked LeBron James (48) of the Los Angeles Lakers slotted in below Curry in net favorability. Lakers forward-center Anthony Davis (39) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (37) rounded out the top five.
  • The 18 percent of NBA fans who said they have an unfavorable opinion of James was the third highest in the survey. James has been criticized by prominent current and former players in recent weeks for saying he doesn’t believe he should “get involved” in convincing others to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The share of fans with both positive and negative opinions of James, however, were fairly consistent with a survey conducted in December, indicating his vaccination stance likely had little impact on the public’s view of him.
  • Guard-forward Ben Simmons, who received negative publicity during the offseason for his refusal to play for the Philadelphia 76ers, tied with Nets guard Kyrie Irving for last in net favorability (13) and had the second-highest share of unfavorable responses with 19 percent.
NBA Fans Split on Players’ Responsibility to Promote Vaccination

Respondents were asked whether NBA players have a responsibility to encourage the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Poll conducted Oct. 8-12, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults, including 987 self-identified NBA fans, with margins of error of +/-2% and +/-3%, respectively.
  • Thirty-eight percent of NBA fans said they believe players have a responsibility to encourage the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19, slightly less than the 45 percent of fans who said it’s up to the individual player to determine whether or not they want to promote vaccination.
  • Irving tied with Simmons for last in net favorability and had the highest share of unfavorable responses with 24 percent. That’s double the 12 percent who had a negative opinion of him in Morning Consult’s 2018 “Most Loved Entertainers” report and could be a reaction to his refusal to get vaccinated. Irving’s defiance led the Nets to suspend him because he would not be allowed to play in home games at Barclays Center due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.

The player favorability survey was conducted Oct. 8-12, 2021, among 360-431 self-identified NBA fans per player, with a margin of error of +/-5%. The vaccination sentiment question was asked in the same survey, among 2,200 U.S. adults, including 987 self-identified NBA fans, with margins of error of +/-2% and +/-3%, respectively.

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