(Courtesy Reuters) — LeBron James and Stephen Curry grabbed the top spots on the Horrow Sports/MVPindex Power 100 as the NBA dominated the rankings released on Tuesday with 24 players on the list that evaluates an athlete’s brand and marketability.
It marked the third consecutive year that James, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, topped the list while Curry, who led the Golden State Warriors to an NBA title last year, shot into second place from 45th.
World number one tennis players Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams and former NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder rounded out the top five.
“Steph Curry made the biggest jump on and off the court of any athlete we’ve seen, frankly in any statistical analysis,” said Rick Horrow, owner of Horrow Sports Ventures.
“When you look at the count, 24 of the 100 (athletes) are basketball players and seven are in the top 25, including one and two. So you have the opportunity to rise to the top of the list if you are a star basketball player.”
The concept for the list was created in 2009. MVPindex joined last year to provide a social media component. On-field results comprise 50 percent of athletes power ranking while the other half is based on off-field attributes: primarily social media presence (including reach, engagement, and conversation).
The list focuses on long-established sports and the U.S. market specifically with 44 of the 100 spots taken by NFL and NBA players.
Boxers and mixed martial arts fighters are included in the list while soccer players are omitted as Horrow said it is impossible to get a fair on-field ranking for them because of overlapping international federations and national teams.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, was the best-ranked National Hockey League player at number six despite a difficult year that saw him under investigation by police on rape charges that were later dropped.
NFL players occupied the next two spots with Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown at number seven followed by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Former world number on golfer Rory McIlroy and James Harden of the NBA’s Houston Rockets closed out the top 10.
The most noticeable trend on the latest list was a strong move by the NBA into the top 10 combined by a drop-off in NFL players considering quarterbacks had occupied five of the top 11 spots in last year’s list.
Tiger Woods, once a fixture in the top 10, failed to make the list after falling steadily from second place two years ago to 76th last year.
Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who will retire at the end of the current NBA season, also slid further down the list as he dropped to 84th place compared to 36th place last year.
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(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)