He's better-liked in Puerto Rico than Anna Kournikova - The Province


Nash one of world's favourite athletes

BY MARC WEBER

Steve Nash isn't one of the most recognizable athletes to American sports fans, but he is one of the most well-liked.

Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Marketing Evaluations in New York, provides Q ratings, which analyze the popularity of celebrities on a number of levels.

Nash's recognition level is 56 per cent, which means close to six out of every 10 sports fans in American know who Nash is. L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, for comparison, is known by 85 per cent.

When it comes to likability, though, Schafer said Nash is at the top of the NBA heap along with San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan and Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade.

Numbers from the Davie Brown Index, an independent resource for brand marketers and agencies, back that up. Nash's overall DBI score of 52.74 isn't among the leaders -- Kobe is at 77.23 -- but Nash is near the top in terms of appeal, which DBI defines as "measuring consumer likability of the celebrity."

Nash's appeal score is 75.29, on par with Cavs stud LeBron James and just ahead of Wayne Gretzky. Schafer, though, doesn't think Nash's philanthropy plays into the equation much south of the border.

"Outside of Phoenix, you don't hear much nationally," he said. "I think it's about his performance on the court, the way he plays, and his personality."

Things like Nash's hilarious performance on the Late Show with David Letterman during the NBA playoffs, when he turned jerk reporter for a night, help.

"His likability has grown five points and his recognition 10 points in the last five years, so he's definitely on a growth track here in the U.S.," Schafer said.

Out of 487 active or retired athletes or sports personalities, Nash ranks 60th with an overall Q score of 22. Former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan is highest at 50 and the average is 14.

"A 50 means that one out of every two people who know Jordan say he's one of their favourites," explained Schafer. "So for Nash, it's about one out of every five."

Tiger Woods is second behind Jordan. Gretzky is the top hockey player in 11th place, while Sidney Crosby is the top active hockey player in 110th. Nash is the second-highest Canadian.

How does Steve Nash stack up against Roberto Luongo in the Lower Mainland?

Well, if you go by Google searches, pretty darn well.

Since Luongo was traded here in June 2006, Nash beats the Canucks puckstopper in eight of 10 regions listed -- Surrey and Langley are the exceptions.

In Vancouver, Google searches for "Steve Nash" are almost double that of "Roberto Luongo," and it's close to triple in North Vancouver.

And, for the record, if you compare Nash to Anna Kournikova -- still one of the world's most Googled sports personalities -- Nash wins Pueto Rico!

-- Marc Weber, stats via Google

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