Betting site Pickswise trawled through hundreds of thousands of tweets from June 2020 to June 2021, looking for abusive phrases aimed at stars in the sports of football, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf and ice hockey.
The research, spanning the past 12 months, found Mr James was far and away the most-trolled player, with 122,568 abusive tweets, followed by UK Manchester United soccer player Marcus Rashford, with 32,328 abusive tweets, and football quarterback Tom Brady, with 28,151 abusive tweets.
Mr James is considered one of the best NBA players of all time but has faced repeated backlash over various views – notably his criticism of former President Donald Trump. Mr James called Mr Trump a “bum” after he withdrew a White House invitation to Stephen Curry.
In an interview with CNN's Don Lemon from 2018, he said he'd noticed over the last few months that Mr Trump had “kind of used sport to kind of divide us”, and added that he would “never sit across from him”.
Most recently, Mr James faced backlash when he tweeted about the fatal police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio.
The NBA star was accused of inciting violence against a police officer by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. Mr James later took the tweet down saying: “I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
The third most-trolled sports star on the list, quarterback Tom Brady, has been caught up in cheating and ball-deflating allegations, which remain unproven. Meanwhile, footballer Marcus Rashford is a hero to many but has been trolled for his philanthropic efforts and campaigning for children in poverty.
Basketball star Kevin Durant appeared fourth on the list of social media abuse of elite athletes, with 24,370 abusive tweets; he got heat for speaking candidly about his experiences of travelling to India.
Race car driver Bubba Wallace came fifth on the list, with 21,750 abusive tweets; followed by basketball player Damian Lillard, with 20,904 abusive tweets; baseball pitcher Trevor Bauer, with 14,083 abusive tweets; Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo with 11,757 abusive tweets; basketball player Steph Curry, with 11,203 abusive tweets; and German footballer Mesut Ozil, with 11,192 abusive tweets.
The full list of the 20 most media-abused sports stars can be found here.
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