Kobe Bryant considered 2nd most searched athlete behind LeBron James

Mark J. Terrill / The Associated Press The Lakers' Kobe Bryant, who missed almost all of the season, worked out at the team's facility on Monday.

Mark J. Terrill / The Associated Press The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who missed almost all of the season, worked out at the team’s facility on Monday.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James once shared similar characteristics, going beyond their superior basketball skills and NBA championships.

They were once heavily despised around the NBA. Bryant caught flak for everything, ranging from his feud with Shaquille O’Neal, sexual assault charges that were eventually dropped, his high volume shooting and his demanding leadership style. James sparked criticism for everything, ranging from announcing in a one-hour special that he would leave Cleveland for Miami and that he would shrink in the fourth quarter.

But now that criticism has died. Bryant has won two championships in the post-Shaq era and publicly has shown a more embraceable personality. James won two titles in Miami. And as a result, both James and Bryant are considered the first and second most searched athlete on Google, according to a study performed by Bestticketsblog. After tracking Google’s search volume data from April 2013 to April 2014, Bryant (1.5 million searches a month) is considered the most searched athlete in California (not a surprise there since he plays for the Lakers) while James (1.8 million searches a month) tops the mark in 22 states (even Idaho).

The Lakers also finished second as the most searched NBA team on Google (1.7 million searches a month), falling just short of the Miami Heat (just over 3 million searches a month), showing that a 27-55 record ensured the worst mark in L.A. franchise history won’t significantly dwindle the amount of interest in the purple and gold. Meanwhile, the Clippers (824,400 searches a month) finished seventh behind the Houston Rockets (1.5 million searches a month), Chicago Bulls (1.3 million searches a month), San Antonio Spurs (1 million searches a month) and Oklahoma City Thunder (988,820 searches a month).

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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