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In social media survey, Kyrie Irving moves past LeBron James as most ‘hated’ NBA player

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Decades back, there was a poll among sports fans on who was the most “liked” and most “hated” sportscaster. Howard Cosell of ABC won both. He was that polarizing.

So how much do you take from such polls? Hard to say, but in the annual BetOnline survey, Kyrie Irving has moved past LeBron James as the most “hated” NBA player. Of course, “hated” is probably too strong a word. “Controversial” seems a better descriptor and there’s always a controversy with Irving. And, of course, Irving is very popular as well. Some 20 million social media followers confirm that.

Still, the BetOnline survey offers a snapshot. BetOnline, an off-shore sports betting outfit, said it collected more than 100,000 tweets from October 18 (start of the season) through November 9 with a geo-tracking program that analyzed “negative sentiment” tweets, hashtags and direct keyword phrases to see which NBA player was the most disliked or “hated” in every state in the country.

For example, phrases such as, “I hate LeBron,” “I hate Kyrie,” “I don’t like Durant,” etc. were tracked in each of the 50 states and here’s the map...

Here’s the state by state breakdown:

Kyrie Irving: 28 states

LeBron James: 17 states

Ben Simmons: 3 states

Kevin Durant: 1 state

Draymond Green: 1 state

As you can see, the Nets are the only team with three players on the list and you could drive from Maine to Colorado and not leave the Nets “hate belt.” Ben Simmons, of course, is not popular in Pennsylvania and Delaware but the hate in New Jersey seems odd. There aren’t that many pinies in South Jersey who follow the NBA. And why is Kevin Durant “hated” in Ohio? What did he ever do to deserve that?

Moreover, the big problem with such surveys is the number of social media users who geo-locate is tiny, like one percent of all Twitter users in the U.S, for example. Still, you can be sure someone in the Nets organization has filed it away.

BetOnline, it should be noted, included the map and stats as part of a promotion for its odds for where Irving might wind up. The Lakers lead at 3/2 followed by the Heat at 5/2 and the Mavericks at 4/1