Unlike in 2010, LeBron James' popularity was actually boosted by his decision this summer to move teams a new poll has revealed this week.
His return 'home' to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years at the Miami Heat coincided with him topping a recent poll of the nation's favorite athletes, and a recent survey has now shown his individual popularity amongst NBA fans has reached unprecedented levels (everywhere outside of Miami we presume).
The September results of an ESPN Sports Poll charting those fans who cite LeBron as their favorite NBA player show 18.4 percent of the league's fans see James as their favorite. A sharp contrast to the 9.4 percent low the four time NBA MVP achieved in the aftermath of his infamous 'Decision.'
The results of the survey when split into demographics provide some intriguing results such as the fact that LeBron's support amongst African-Americans actually fell slightly following his move to the Cavs.
Hispanic support meanwhile has jumped over four percent between the end of last season and the present day. A somewhat surprising statistic when you consider the rich Latino market James has just left in Miami.
Perhaps the most interesting finding however is the group that is powering LeBron James' return to the top of the popularity polls - the older generation.
With young fans' (aged between 12-17) support for James actually dropping from 22.4 percent to 21.4 percent over the last six months it was left to the grandmas and grandpas of the United States to boost the former Heat mans' popularity.
16.5 percent of over 55 year-olds now see LeBron as their favorite player in contrast to just 11.7 percent last season. Whilst the 35-54 age bracket saw a similar rise (from 14.7 percent to 18.4 percent).
As ESPN alludes to, this new found appreciation from the senior citizens is likely in direct correlation with his return to Cleveland with older fans more inclined to support their local team.
LeBron came in for harsh criticism in 2010 when he very publicly announced that he would be leaving the Cavs in favor of a switch to the Miami Heat. Over the past four years he has slowly regained respect from NBA fans who called out the manner of the switch and it seems like Decision 2.0 has helped him tip that popularity over the edge.
If he can help lead the Cavs to a title in his first year back home he just might see those percentages ramp up a little further.
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