A year ago at this time, Kris Humphries was a fairly unassuming backup big man for the New Jersey Nets. Then he started casually dating America's sweetheart Kim Kardashian. That romance eventually turned into something more serious -- he went on her TV show, she went to Newark for a game -- and in August they married. It lasted only 72 days, because some loves are just too powerful to do anything but burn out.
Humphries now has a greater celebrity profile, but that fame has been welcomed with searing hatred by many Kardashophilic people of this nation. In fact, a recent Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research poll lists him as the most hated player in the NBA. That's right, that dastardly fiend LeBron James can't even beat him out. From Tom Van Riper at Forbes.com (via PBT):
Then recently, Humphries' marriage to Kardashian was over — 72 days after it started. Then came the speculation: Was the marriage fake all along? Was Kim really caught in a nude Yoga session with a male instructor in their home? It's all created enough tabloid fatigue for the public, when asked which player in the NBA they most dislike, now choose Humphries' name before any other.
"He's been on five magazine covers, all in a negative light," says Stephen Master, VP at Nielsen Sports, which helped run the survey. "It's all so recent, he's gotten all this publicity for something other than basketball talent."
Check out the top 10, after the jump, along with the percentage of respondents who found each player unlikable (stats via EOB).
1. Kris Humphries (50 percent dislike)
2. LeBron James (48 percent)
3. Kobe Bryant (45 percent)
4. Tony Parker (37 percent)
5. Metta World Peace (36 percent)
6. Chris Bosh (34 percent)
7. Carmelo Anthony (27 percent)
8. Paul Pierce (25 percent)
9. Dwyane Wade (23 percent)
10. Lamar Odom (21 percent)
Tabloid fatigue is pretty obviously a factor here, because Tony Parker (who divorced Eva Longoria), Lamar Odom (who's married to Khloe Kardashian), Carmelo Anthony (whose wife has a reality show on VideoHits1), and Metta World Peace (who would really like to be in tabloids as much as possible) also rank pretty highly. On the other hand, the relatively "impressive" showing of Paul Pierce suggests that hardcore basketball annoyance also matters. The Celtics provoke strong reactions, and Pierce is the most Celticky Celtic, but those bad tidings tend to be limited to NBA fans, not people who hear about these players most often in the supermarket checkout line.
Whatever the case, Humphries' ascension to the throne of hate is good news for LeBron, who could use some positive (or at least neutral) attention after about 18 months of unrestrained animosity. However, the public's opinion on Humphries seems to be largely based on the news of the day, not some perceived personal failing that has followed him around for years. When he becomes less of a tabloid curiosity, people will probably lose interest, both positively and negatively. He'll just be another guy again.
LeBron, though, has to win in order to be looked at more positively. The Heat are a good team with as good a shot at a championship as anyone this season, but NBA titles are usually less predictable than the tide of public opinion. For all we know, next year James may reclaim the most hated crown once again.
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