Lebron James, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles: Who are the world’s most influential sportstars?

Simone Biles, Lebron James, Naomi Osaka

Lebron James, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles have been named as some of the most influential athlete influencers in the world, according to Sports Business Journal.

The organisation, which leads daily news, insight and opinion on the global business of sport, has ranked the top influencers across a number of categories, ranging from ‘Dealmakers’ to ‘Labor Leaders’.

One of the categories is ‘Athlete influencers’ where James, Osaka and Biles are all recognised.

James is considered one of the best basketball players of all time and currently stars for the LA Lakers. He is a four-time NBA champion and a 17-time NBA All-Star.

Despite spending nearly two decades with Coca-Cola, James landed a huge endorsement with Pepsi this year and took an ownership stake in Fenway Sports Group.

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The basketball icon has also been a strong activist for the Black Lives Matter movement and was outspoken on the death of Ma’Khia Bryant. James took to Twitter and called for “more accountability” when it came to condemning racism.

Meanwhile, both Osaka and Biles helped heighten awareness over athletes’ mental health. Osaka’s refusal to fulfil press conference obligations at the French Open raised the question over whether athletes are too heavily scrutinised by the media. And Biles’ withdrawal from multiple events at the Tokyo Olympics saw her praised for her bravery in speaking out.

The two also extended their list of lucrative endorsement deals. Biles swapped Nike for Gap’s Athleta brand –– stating she was better aligned with the values of the apparel company.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, she said: “I think they stand for everything I stand for.”

Back in January, Osaka was named the brand ambassador for Tag Heuer watches as well as Louis Vuitton.

The tennis star also announced her own swimwear collection as well as a range of new skincare products called KINLO.

Simone Biles

In an interview with Business of Fashion, Osaka explained how her product differs from others on the market.

“This is a public health need,” she said. “I used to tell people that I didn’t need to wear sunscreen — but even if you have melanin, you need to take care of your skin, and I am passionate about that.”

US Women’s National Team football star Alex Morgan was also recognised by Sports Business Journal for speaking publicly on social media about the National Women’s Soccer League’s inaction around sexual abuse allegations.

SBJ says this helped heighten “the conversation around a need for systematic and cultural change and new safeguards to prevent similar behaviour in the future.”

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