According to the Seton Hall Sports Poll, LeBron James is the NBA's top pitchman. In the poll, conducted last week with 875 American adults, the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar is significantly more influential than Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors:
When asked which player is more likely "to sway your purchase decision on something he endorses", 26% selected James and 19% selected Curry, with 40% choosing neither, and 16% declaring "don't know."
"Curry got enormous attention last year, but James did win the championship, and he's been on the scene a lot longer" said Rick Gentile, director of the Poll, which is sponsored by The Sharkey Institute. "We will be watching to see if this turns over the next season."
Here's what I'd like to know: What would the results have been if this poll was conducted in the middle of last season? Before the Warriors and Cavaliers met in the NBA Finals and James led his team back from a 3-1 deficit, the public perceptions of these two players seemed different. Curry was often framed as being the more relatable of the two because he's smaller and kids can more easily dream of shooting and dribbling like him than being as physically imposing as James.
After the Warriors won an NBA record 73 games, though, Curry and his Golden State team no longer looked like underdogs. The Finals might have been the first time in James' career that he had the opportunity to slay Goliath. Bringing Cleveland its first championship and doing so against against the odds in such spectacular fashion -- with back-to-back 41-point games and a block that will be remembered forever -- obviously helped James' public profile.
For now, James status seems secure, unless Cleveland surprisingly struggles this coming season. What's unknown is how Kevin Durant signing with Golden State might affect Curry's popularity. People have been trying to cast the Warriors as villains, but that role doesn't fit Curry's personality.