Photo credit: Getty Images

Per Billboard Magazine, the venerable barometer of America’s ever-shifting taste in music and pop culture, the longest reign at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 album chart is held by the 1961 soundtrack for the feature film version of the immortal Broadway musical “West Side Story.” The soundtrack ruled for 54 weeks, just over a year.

Fast forward about 40 years and, to poach some famous “West Side Story” lyrics, the sports world started singing:

I’ve just met a guy named LeBron,
And suddenly that name
Will never be the same
To me.

Ever since he first entered the national conscience as a highly-touted high school basketball player at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio and was subsequently selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, LeBron James has deftly choreographed a stellar career both on and off the basketball court. Time and again, “King” James has reigned over the top position on any number of lists, from being a repeat NBA champion and MVP to topping athlete earnings and endorsement lists.

The latest such recognition for James, equally as comfortable on the cover of Fortune as he is Sports Illustrated, is topping the Horrow Sports Ventures/MVPindex 2014 Power 100 ranking of the world’s most powerful pro athletes in the U.S.

To determine who the 100 most powerful athletes are on and off the field, Horrow Sports Ventures, collaborated with Dallas, TX based MVPindex, with an assist from Bloomberg Sports, the world’s leader in sports analytic technology.

“MVPindex measures what people ‘really’ care about, not what they ‘say’ they care about,” said co-founder and CMO Kyle Nelson. “Traditionally, sports marketers have relied on survey-based tools to gather intelligence on athletes. MVPindex both captures and measures conversations in real-time across the Socialsphere to evaluate an athletes’ sponsorship value. People are spending more time in social media than watching TV, reading magazines or listening to the radio. So, it just makes sense that a new measurement model is introduced.”

“This is the fifth year of the Power 100, and it continues to command attention as an invaluable tool to evaluate an athlete’s brand and marketability,” added Horrow Sports Ventures CEO Rick Horrow. “By focusing narrowly on social media for our off-field component, we are combining strong performance analytics with the most robust social media statistics in the industry, forming a new way of analyzing an athlete’s overall performance measurement.”

Unlike prior years, in which the NFL dominated the top quarter of the list, the 2014 Power 100 revealed a more homogenous balance between athletes participating in individual sports and team sports. Right behind James on the 2014 Power 100 list are the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson (No. 2), the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant (No. 3), and World No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy (No. 4).
Starting with the Los Angeles Angel’s Mike Trout at No. 5, baseball players came in strong as the MLB regular season ended and interest in the post season built. Tennis players continued to show their marketplace mettle, led by World No. 1 Novak Djokovic (No. 12), Serena Williams (No. 20, the top-ranked woman on the list), and Maria Sharapova (No. 24).

The 2014 Power 100 focuses on long-established sports and the U.S. market specifically. Key indicator statistics were used as predictors of performance per sport, and statistical weight varied with impact. For sports lacking indicator statistics, such as tennis and golf, relevant rankings were used.

In its fifth consecutive installment, The Power 100 uses a complex statistical model to accurately compare performance and influence through on-field and off-field attributes. This metric is collectively known as POWER, and enables equitable comparison across otherwise incomparable sports.

For 2014, on-field attributes comprise 50% of the athletes’ POWER. The other 50% is based entirely on a key off-field attribute: social media presence. Combining on-field (50%) and off-field (50%) attributes yields the POWER score. Athletes are then ranked based on POWER to find the top 100.
Boxing, MMA, and soccer were not included in the 2014 Power 100 rankings, a change from earlier iterations of the rankings.

The on-field attributes measure an athlete’s ranking within his or her sport, relative to all other participants. Each athlete is compared to peer group averages, by sport (and position when necessary), in a number of statistical categories.
Next, a multiplier is used to adjust athletes’ rankings, based on the popularity and viewing audience of that sport. Given that some sports schedules overlap the calendar year, data for the 2014 Power 100 is sourced from that sport’s most recently-completed regular season, or, in the case of tennis and golf, through the conclusion of the sports’ “majors” (and including Ryder Cup data in golf’s calculations). NFL statistics, finally, were based on the entire 2013-2014 season as well as numbers through the 2014 Week Four. The 2014 Power 100 allows inclusion of the full 2013-2014 NBA and NHL seasons.

The off-field score was measured by the MVPindex, a unique scoring algorithm that blends three key social media metrics in its calculation. Unlike other indices that principally measure Reach—the size of one’s potential audience—MVPindex considers Reach along with the subject’s actual social media engagement activity and the conversation surrounding the athlete across the web.
These three components—Reach, Engagement, and Conversation—provide a much more focused picture of an athlete’s influence and the overall value of his or her social media footprint.
These days, social media mastery is a critical part of any successful athlete’s skill set—a reality of which most savvy pro athletes are painfully aware.

“When I first started out on [social media] I didn’t really respond to people. I just went on it to see what people were saying about me, you know?” Kevin Durant has been quoted as saying. “But now I’m a lot more active on it — I reply a lot more. I realized a simple ‘hello’ can really make someone’s day. It’s cool to get a direct response from a basketball player, and it’s a great way to connect with fans.”

Like just about every other aspect of his game and his life, James has clearly dominated the social media sphere.

“You take an athlete like LeBron James and you look at his influence. On Twitter alone, he has 12 and a half million followers,” Nelson noted. “Nike, for whom he is a brand ambassador, has two and a half million followers. So he already has a larger net that he’s casting out there, and he can cast a wide net across his audience to influence purchases for Nike, and introduce new brand products and solutions. Whereas if Nike is posting the same content, the impact and implications are far less.”

And the Nikes of our world certainly recognize the value of a blue chip athlete social media asset.
“Brands that are just looking for ‘likes’ are totally missing the boat,” summarized Ray Katz, Managing Director of Source1Sports. “To the extent that social media can generate conversations about brands or products, or the benefits and attributes of those products, that’s really what companies are looking for.”

“When you think of football, and the NFL specifically, as America’s No.1 sport in terms of a fan base, people reviewing this list will be very surprised by the predominance of NBA players, even relative to NFL players,” Katz continued. “Part of that is because of the social media and digital media leadership relative to the fan base of the NBA.”
And because of the social media leadership of a guy named LeBron.

Follow Rick Horrow (@RickHorrow) and Karla Swatek (@kswak) on Twitter.

HorrowSports/MVPindex Power 100

Total Power*
1LeBron JamesBasketball95.27
2Russell WilsonFootball94.04
3Kevin DurantBasketball93.9
4Rory McIlroyGolf93.89
5Mike TroutBaseball92.27
6Carmelo AnthonyBasketball90.75
7Drew BreesFootball90.72
8Blake GriffinBasketball90.67
9Dez BryantFootball90.66
10Aaron RodgersFootball90.5
11Colin KaepernickFootball89.95
12Novak DjokovicTennis89.91
13DeMarco MurrayFootball89.86
14Andrew McCutchenBaseball89.78
15Jamaal CharlesFootball89.34
16Russell WestbrookBasketball89.14
17Jimmy GrahamFootball89.13
18Cam NewtonFootball88.4
19Robinson CanoBaseball88.3
20Serena WilliamsTennis87.56
21Roger FedererTennis86.97
22Rafael NadalTennis86.92
23Paul GeorgeBasketball86.79
24Maria SharapovaTennis86.7
25Jeff GordonMotorsports86.62
26Miguel CabreraBaseball86.25
27James HardenBasketball85.61
28Antonio BrownFootball85.52
29Bubba WatsonGolf85.09
30Matt ForteFootball84.76
31Dwight HowardBasketball84.53
32Kevin LoveBasketball84.39
33Dwyane WadeBasketball83.88
34Kyrie IrvingBasketball83.7
35Chris PaulBasketball83.62
36Kobe BryantBasketball83.19
37LeSean McCoyFootball82.84
38Andrew LuckFootball82.39
39Antonio BrownFootball82.09
40Demaryius ThomasFootball81.77
41Peyton ManningFootball80.9
42Damian LillardBasketball80.44
43Marshawn LynchFootball79.54
44Brandon MarshallFootball79.13
45Stephen CurryBasketball79.04
46Tom BradyFootball78.78
47Alfred MorrisFootball78.54
48Matthew StaffordFootball78.49
49A.J. GreenFootball77.29
50Jimmie JohnsonMotorsports76.88
51Nick FolesFootball75.76
52Calvin JohnsonFootball75.53
53Matt RyanFootball75.32
54Kevin HarvickMotorsports75.14
55Rickie FowlerGolf74.98
56DeMar DeRozanBasketball73.3
57Philip RiversFootball73.27
58Chandler ParsonsBasketball72.88
59Julius ThomasFootball72.84
60LaMarcus AldridgeBasketball72.84
61Dale Earnhardt JrMotorsports72.61
62Sergio GarciaGolf72.39
63Carey PriceHockey71.02
64DeMarcus CousinsBasketball70.74
65Henrik LundqvistHockey70.43
66Andy MurrayTennis69.79
67Joakim NoahBasketball68.58
68DeSean JacksonFootball68.46
69Kyle BuschMotorsports68.31
70Joe FlaccoFootball68.2
71Tyler SeguinHockey67.02
72Justin VerlanderBaseball66.15
73Jeremy LinBasketball65.29
74Buster PoseyBaseball64.92
75Joey LoganoMotorsports64.86
76Tiger WoodsGolf64.67
77David PriceBaseball64.23
78Petra KvitovaTennis64.21
79Joe NathanBaseball64.18
80Caroline WozniackiTennis64.17
81Eugenie BouchardTennis63.85
82Ana IvanovicTennis63.64
83Hunter PenceBaseball63.48
84Denny HamlinMotorsports63.33
85Jose BautistaBaseball62.64
86Adam ScottGolf62.28
87Matt KensethMotorsports61.87
88Adam JonesBaseball61.76
89Kei NishikoriTennis61.71
90Agnieszka RadwanskaTennis61.31
91Phil KesselHockey61.17
92Stan WawrinkaTennis61.15
93Brad KeselowskiMotorsports60.98
94Eddie RoyalFootball60.52
95Jordan SpiethGolf60.51
96Jon LesterBaseball60.3
97Jose AltuveBaseball59.99
98Koji UeharaBaseball59.82
99Max ScherzerBaseball59.59
100Ryan TannehillFootball59.58


On Field: Scoring algorithm uses sport-specific indicator statistics. The index also includes a multiplier based on popularity and viewing audience of that sport

Off Field: Blends three social media metrics. Components include reach, engagement, and conversation yielding overall social media footprint


By Tanner Simkins,

1. LeBron James

• Sport/Team: Basketball, Cleveland Cavaliers
• Age: 29
• POWER 100: 5th appearance, 4th top ten
• Fun fact: First dunk in 8th grade in school’s student vs teacher game
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “OMFG I think it just hit me, I’m a CHAMPION!! I AM a CHAMPION!!”

Photo credit: Getty Images

2. Russell Wilson

• Sport/Team: Football, Seattle Seahawks
• Age: 25
• POWER 100: 2nd appearance, 1st top ten
• Fun fact: Drafted by Colorado Rockies in 2010. In 2014, participated in Texas Rangers spring training
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “Accept what is…Let go of what was…and have Faith in what could be…”

Photo credit: Getty Images

3. Kevin Durant

• Sport/Team: Basketball, Oklahoma City Thunder
• Age: 26
• POWER 100: 5th appearance, 1st top 10
• Fun fact: Wears size 18 shoes
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “God bless u my brother ‪@Paul_George24‬‬. I’m hurt, praying for
you. Praying for peace. Praying that God heals you in a supernatural way.”

Photo credit: Flickr

4. Rory McIlroy

• Sport/Team: Golf, PGA Tour/European Tour pro
• Age: 25
• POWER 100: 3rd appearance, 1st top ten
• Fun fact: Routinely hit 40 yard drives when his was just two years old
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “I hit a little white ball around a field sometimes”

Photo credit: Wikimedia

5. Mike Trout

• Sport/Team: Baseball, Los Angeles Angels
• Age: 23
• POWER 100: 2nd appearance, 1st top ten
• Fun fact: As a child, he would sleep in his uniform after t-ball games
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “Jeter always played the game in the most respectful way.
Honored to have been able to watch, play and learn from one of the greatest!!”

Photo credit: Flickr

6. Carmelo Anthony

• Sport/Team: Basketball, New York Knicks
• Age: 30
• POWER 100: 5th appearance, 1st top ten
• Fun fact: Launched his own venture capital firm with a focus on tech
• Most retweeted/favorited update:‪ “@__Kingsleyy5‬‬ I didn’t ask for your glazed donut face ass to root for me anyway!!!!”

Photo credit: Wikimedia

7. Drew Brees

• Sport/Team: Football, New Orleans Saints
• Age: 35
• POWER 100: 5th appearance, 4th top 10
• Fun fact: Wears #9 in honor of baseball legend Ted Williams
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “One more time, who wants the EA Sports FIFA Soccer 13 set??? Retweet and I will pick a winner today”

Photo credit: Wikimedia

8. Blake Griffin

• Sport/Team: Basketball, Los Angeles Clippers
• Age: 25
• POWER 100: 3rd appearance, 1st top ten
• Fun fact: Donates to his foundation, Dunking for Dollars, for every dunk
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “Richard Sherman seems chill…”

Photo credit: Flickr

9. Dez Bryant

• Sport/Team: Football, Dallas Cowboys
• Age: 25
• POWER 100: 1st appearance, 1st top ten
• Fun fact: Owns his own clothing line, ThrowUpTheX, named after his signature touchdown celebration
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “How Bout Dem ‪@DallasCowboys‬‬? We got another one for y’all today ‪#CowboysNation‬‬. ‪@ThrowUpTheX‬‬”

Photo credit: Wikimedia

10. Aaron Rodgers

• Sport/Team: Football, Green Bay Packers
• Age: 30
• POWER 100: 5th appearance, 4th top ten
• Fun fact: Self-taught guitarist, started his own record label
• Most retweeted/favorited update: “Hang in there Geno, ‘good things come to those who wait’ -Paul Tagliabue”

Photo credit: Wikimedia