James received mixed reviews last season after joining the Lakers and failing to break their streak of missing the NBA playoffs. However, this season has been completely different in terms of his popularity in Los Angeles.
This was confirmed by an annual survey conducted by Loyola Marymount University of people in the greater Los Angeles area. This survey asks 1,000 people about their favorite team and favorite player in Los Angeles with the qualifier being the team name must have Los Angeles in it. Of the 10 teams, the Lakers were barely rated as the favorite.
However, the players’ survey was not quite as close as James was the heavy favorite among Los Angeles residents, according to Bill Shaikin of The L.A. Times:
The survey also asked participants to select their favorite player, with one player representing each of those 10 teams. James dominated, with 46% of the vote, and only three other players even reaching 5%: the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (10.7%), LAFC’s Carlos Vela (8.3%) and the Angels’ Mike Trout (6.7%).
James, who has been with the Lakers for just two seasons and has yet to even play in a playoff game with the team, was the city’s favorite player by over 35 percent. In addition, the next three players on the list have all won the Most Valuable Player award with their current Los Angeles based team.
This speaks to the influence James has in the world as simply helping the Lakers attain the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference was enough to completely skew the vote in his direction.
The LMU survey also looked at 51 different demographic groups. James was the favorite among all but two of those groups as Carlos Vela was first among Spanish speakers and non-high school graduates.
On the team side of things, the Lakers and Dodgers dominated. The Lakers beat out the Dodgers by just 4 percent, but the two teams combined to take up 66 percent of the vote. This means that two-thirds of Los Angeles has either the Dodgers or the Lakers as their favorite team.