Jeremy Lin ranks in top 25 of 120 Sports/MVP Index’s Most Valued Athletes on Social Media in 2016

Jeremy Lin ranks in top 25 of 120 Sports/MVP Index’s Most Valued Athletes on Social Media in 2016

Russell Wilson & Odell Beckham Jr. Rank Highest; Wilson Claims Top Spot for Second Straight Year; NFL Dominates with

9 Athletes in Top 25


January 12, 2017 (CHICAGO) – The Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson (No. 1), New York Giants Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 2) and the Houston Texans JJ Watt (No.3) were officially named the Top 3 Most Valued Athletes in Social Media of 2016 in a ranking created in partnership between MVPindex and 120 Sports. The ranking includes U.S. professional and Olympic athletes.


To determine the most valued athletes on social media this year, Chicago-based digital sports network 120 Sports collaborated with industry-leading social measurement and valuation platform MVPindex to rank athletes using a proprietary algorithm that evaluates all of their social activity throughout the past year. The ranking combines three separate scores: Reach (fans, followers, impressions), Engagement (likes, comments, shares, retweets, favorites) and Conversation (positive/negative mentions).


The Top 25 list is as follows:

  • Russell Wilson (NFL)
  • Odell Beckham Jr. (NFL)
  • J.J. Watt (NFL)
  • Rory McIlroy (PGA TOUR)
  • Conor McGregor (UFC)
  • LeBron James  (NBA)
  • Tiger Woods (PGA TOUR)
  • Richard Sherman (NFL)
  • Tom Brady (NFL)
  • Rob Gronkowski (NFL)
  • Stephen Curry (NBA)
  • Antonio Brown (NFL)
  • Jeremy Lin (NBA)
  • Robinson Cano (MLB)
  • Alex Morgan (US Soccer)
  • Serena Williams (WTA)
  • Cam Newton (NFL)
  • Ronda Rousey (UFC)
  • Mike Trout (MLB)
  • Jeff Gordon (NASCAR)
  • Kevin Durant (NBA)
  • Hope Solo (US Soccer)
  • Dwayne Wade (NBA)
  • Dez Bryant (NFL)
  • Kerri Walsh Jennings (AVP)


The National Football League dominated the 2016 ranking with 9 players in the Top 25. The NBA followed with five of the Top 25 athletes. Wilson claimed the top spot for the second straight year with an overall ranking of 0.983, remaining at the center of the social spotlight this year not only for his athletic performance, but also for his recent marriage to singer Ciara.


“We produce and deliver sports content based on whatever is the hottest story as indicated by what is trending on social media and what sports fans are talking about on social platforms,” said Jason Coyle, president of 120 Sports. “MVPindex helps us to quantify the commanding voices and influencers on social media from the past year so we can continue to relate with our fans by showcasing the athletes that matter most to them.”

The most impressive climbs on the 2016 index include MMA fighter Conor McGregor who jumped an impressive 33 spots from last year’s index to claim the No. 5 spot in 2016. In addition, Cam Newton (No. 16), Stephen Curry (No. 11) and Antonio Brown (No. 12) all made notable double-digit climbs up from 2015.

There are five women represented on the list in 2016; Alex Morgan (No. 15), Serena Williams (No. 16), Ronda Rousey (No. 18), Hope Solo (No. 22) and Kerri Walsh Jennings (No. 25). The Seahawks, Patriots and Cavaliers all have two players each; the youngest person on the list is Beckham Jr. at 24, and the oldest is Tiger Woods at 41.

Top athletes in each sport include:

  • Robinson Cano (MLB)
  • Conor McGregor (UFC)
  • Russell Wilson (NFL)
  • Rory McIlroy (PGA TOUR)
  • LeBron James (NBA)
  • Alex Morgan (US Soccer)
  • Serena Williams (WTA)
  • Jeff Gordon (NASCAR)
  • Kerri Walsh Jennings (AVP)


The 2016 list reveals interesting findings including a spotlight on the growth in popularity of MMA/UFC in the past year, as both McGregor (No.5) and Ronda Rousey (No. 18) are featured in the Top 25.


“For years, the yard stick in determining social media value was based solely on the number of followers someone had. But at MVP we know that quantity does not mean quality,” said MVPindex co-founder Kyle Nelson. “With our sophisticated Engagement Value Assessment™ tool, we look at social media impressions, engagement, virality and social authority to help figure out what it’s all really worth.”


Nelson continued: “This year’s list rewarded those athletes who were able to leverage their success on the field of play to also win on social. They were able to consistently drive high levels of engagement through compelling content and authentic conversations with consumers. This not only helps build their own personal brands but also makes them the most effective ambassadors for the brands they represent.”

NBA’s growth in China is creating a blue print for all other American sports

By: Matthew J Walker

“Nothing or no one can be No. 1 in the world unless it is No. 1 in China.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made this statement to the Chinese media during this year’s ‘Global Games’ tour in China. 2016 was the 10th edition of the China Games, where the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans swept into Shanghai and Beijing for a pair of preseason games. The tour brought all of the glitz, glamor and excitement — including NBA stars James Harden and Anthony Davis — to the most populous nation on the planet, with 1.4 billion people. With record numbers, fans packed the stands to watch informal practices, 3-point and free throw shooting competitions. The league also conducted ‘NBA Cares’ and ‘Jr. NBA’ community events and league partners hosted numerous interactive fan activities.

“Overseeing our business here in China, I now see over 300 million people playing basketball – the same population of the United States.” NBA China CEO David Shoemaker highlights the growth of the NBA in China has been a calculated journey. The NBA was one of the first American media companies that started ‘live’ broadcasting on Chinese television, which at the time was unprecedented. Once the Internet became popular in China, the NBA created a specific Chinese-language website that featured live game statistics in simplified Chinese that has now grown to over 70 million subscribers. During the 2016-17 season, over 400 regular season NBA games will be shown free and Tencent will stream the rest for a fee. Tencent is one of China’s top Chinese Internet services providers and China’s most valuable brand. This strategic partnership becomes the league’s largest international digital partnership with the NBA to receive a guaranteed $500 million with an additional $200 million to be earned through revenue sharing.

The first Asian player ever drafted in the NBA was China’s Sung Tao by the Atlanta Hawks in the third round in 1987.  The first to play in an NBA game was 7-footer Wang Zhizhi, who played five games with the Dallas Mavericks in 1999.  There was Mengke Bateer, who joined the Denver Nuggets in 2002. Although, it was the 7-foot-5 Yao Ming, who threw the doors wide open as the 1st overall pick in 2002 with the Houston Rockets. Yao played nine seasons, became an eight-time All-Star, a worldwide celebrity and in September was inducted with Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal into Class of 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame. Chinese fans loved him—so much so that Yao carried the Chinese flag into the Opening Ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Now every NBA club is scouting China, hopeful of finding the next star.  Forward Yi Jianlian was drafted No. 6 overall by Milwaukee in 2007 and spent five seasons in the NBA. When Yao and Yi met for the first time in an NBA game during the 2007-08 season, the game drew a TV audience of more than 200 million – equivalent to the super bowl. For American media companies looking to gain presence in China, the NBA serves as the blueprint. This season, the Rockets have scheduled a ceremony to retire Yao Ming’s No. 11 jersey and hang it from the rafters of Houston’s Toyota Center on 2nd February 2017 – coinciding with the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration and hoping to get over 300 million viewers.

While China’s fondness for basketball is more than a century old, it was Yao that turned that interest into real addiction.  Yao now living and working as a businessman in his hometown of Shanghai, as become the owner of the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Rockets team president Tad Brown has said,  “Yao has opened up incredible doors on the market front for the NBA.  He’s opened up incredible opportunities for the league to continue to expand and grow”. The Chinese government has earmarked basketball as one of its key growth sports in the coming years. Yao has lent his hand and his name to another venture called ‘The Basketball Tournament (TBT)’. A winner takes all, five-on-five tournament, with a mix of former elite college stars and players with NBA experience, which concludes in New York with a final Tuesday night on ESPN. “The partnership between TBT and China is exciting, with the goal of extending the growth of basketball beyond the terrific work done by NBA China at the grass roots level,” said Ray Katz, a veteran sports marketer and professor at Columbia University.

Other leagues can learn from the NBA’s game plan to build a massive audience in the world’s most populous country. The NBA announced a first in its ownership history, when a Chinese investor, 35-year-old businessman Lizhang Jiang, acquired a 5% stake in the Minnesota Timberwolves. What’s more, when exploring international playing opportunities, there are now 34 former NBA players in the CBA this season – including Josh Smith and Carlos Boozer – where the pay is better than those offered in Europe. It’s worth noting, the establishment of offices in Shanghai and Beijing were brilliant moves made by the NBA to garner interest through exhibition games, family-oriented interactive experiences, and meet-and-greets to familiarize the Chinese with American sports stars.

Finally, the NBA has long had a big fan base in China and now the league hopes to start recruiting talent there as well. The NBA announced it’s opening a set of training camps in China for elite male and female players. The “NBA Academies” are slated to launch in Hangzhou, Jinan and Urumqi, China in 2017. Players will get instruction from NBA-trained coaches in addition to attending school and learning about leadership and character development. “NBA Academies are the logical next step in the league’s global grassroots basketball activities,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “Top international prospects will benefit from a complete approach to player development that combines NBA-quality coaching, training and competition with academics and personal development.” As the first American professional sports league to compete in China, the NBA’s has already achieved significant return on investment, with unprecedented levels of popularity and securing meaningful partnership opportunities to leverage into the future.


Reference List

Blinebury, F (2016). ‘Politics, lack of clear direction stifle China’s basketball talent’. Retrieved on 11/09/2016 from:

Greenburg, J (2016). ‘What the NBA Knows About China That Silicon Valley Doesn’t’. Retrieved on 11/09/2016 from: (2016). ‘New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets Headline 10th Edition of NBA Games in China’. Retrieved on 11/09/2016 from:

Patterson, D. (2016). ‘NBA China and the Globalization of Basketball’. Retrieved on 11/10/2016 from:

Simkins, T (2016). ‘Can new American basketball venture succeed in China?’ Retrieved on 11/09/2016 from:

Tuchman, R (2016). ‘China Can’t Get Enough Of The NBA’. Retrieved on 11/10/2016 from:

Battier Talks China, Sports Business

Battier Talks China, Sports Business

There is no secret that the sport of basketball is a critical aspect of the sports business growth strategy for China, and the NBA and its stars are front and center in that growth. A handful of NBA stars have clearly broken through in engagement in China, ranging from Stephon Marbury and Kobe Bryant to Dwayne Wade and Tracey McGrady. You also have the obvious ties to stars like Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin who have much more than just a marketing tie to Asia and the growth of the sport they star or have starred, in.

Another of those breakthrough personalities from a marketing standpoint is now-retired NBA star Shane Battier. Battier has taken on a post-playing role an entrepreneur, especially in the digital space, following his retirement, and as a teammate of Yao in Houston, got to witness the explosion of basketball in China first hand. While not currently involved in Chinese sports business, Battier has had past endorsements, and looks to the future to see how and when he can engage again.

We caught up with Shane to talk about the business of China in sport, and his experiences.

ASIA SPORTS BUSINESS: You may be more popular in China than in the US, how did that come about?

SHANE BATTIER: ​After getting traded to the Houston Rockets in 2006, I was approached by Chinese shoe manufacturer Peak to be the first NBA player to wear their shoes. I toured China every summer for 10 years, since I was a teammate of Yao, my popularity rose fairly quickly in China.​

ASB: As someone interested in things beyond basketball, how do you view the Asian marketplace today?

​SB: The Asian marketplace is a fascinating place because everyone sees the potential for growth and efficiency due to the scale of the market. We have not seen the scale of this many people economically mobilize maybe since the Industrial Revolution.​

ASB: What surprises you the most about business and sports in China, as an American?

​SB: ​I was always surprised by the amount of knowledge and familiarity that the Chinese had for American sports. When I toured cities I in the middle of China, I was always met with enthusiastic NBA fans. China loves basketball!​

ASB: Is it a market you see yourself doing more in in the coming years?

​SB: ​I have always enjoyed my time in China. Any excuse to visit the country is an opportunity that I will take. I was able to present a speech last year and am trying to attend the China NBA games this year.​

ASB: What differences have you seen in the American and Chinese marketplace as both an athlete and a businessperson?

​​SB: As an athlete and as a business person, I believe that the American marketplaces places more value on what could be or potential, while in China, the focus is much more on the present state. ​

ASB: Looking back, how impactful was Yao in leading change and awareness and how do you think that legacy can continue now that he is retired?

​SB: Yao is the most important athletic figure in Chinese history because at his peak he was one of the most dominant players in a global game. His legacy will be felt for generations now that young Chinese athletes have a fellow countryman who rose to the top of his sport as popular as basketball. Yao used his platform for social good. He will continue to make China and the world, a better place.

TOPPS NOW™ Honors Ichiro Suzuki For His 3,000th Hit

TOPPS NOW™ Honors Ichiro Suzuki With Commemorative TOPPS NOW Cards For His 3,000th Hit

Cards Available For Only 24 Hours At

(August 8, 2016) The Topps Company and their fast-growing on-demand platform TOPPS NOW™ today announced that they are honoring baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki with not one but two types of special cards for fans. The first, an incredible TOPPS NOW card, features Ichiro for his monumental 3,000th hit during Sunday night’s Miami Marlins win over the Colorado Rockies. The second type are extraordinary TOPPS NOW exclusive cards limited to 99 copies or less which include commemorative relic pieces of a game-used base from Sunday’s game where Ichiro hit an iconic triple to secure his place in history and MLB record books as the first Japanese player to reach this milestone in Major League Baseball.

Cards will only be available to order for 24 hours from and then ship to fans within 3-5 business days. TOPPS NOW was launched at the start of the MLB season and has been a tremendous hit among fans with hundreds of thousands of cards ordered to date.

New York Mets’ Bartolo Colon remains the most ordered TOPPS NOW card of 2016 with over 8,000 cards delivered following the All-Star pitcher’s unbelievably glorious home run against the San Diego Padres in May. David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox has the second-most demanded card to date with over 4500 cards ordered for his memorable All-Star Game helmet tip. The TOPPS NOW Ichiro commemorative relic card marks only the second time such a TOPPS NOW relic card has been offered. The first TOPPS NOW commemorative relic card offer which featured All-Star Game MVP Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals sold out in just 20 minutes.

About The Topps Company:

Founded in 1938, The Topps Company, Inc. is the preeminent creator and brand marketer of physical and digital sports cards, entertainment cards and collectibles, and distinctive confectionery products. Topps’ leading sports and entertainment products include Major League Baseball, National Football League, Major League Soccer, UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, Bundesliga, Indian Premier League, Star Wars, WWE, UFC, Wacky Packages®, Garbage Pail Kids®, Mars Attacks® and other trading cards, sticker album collections and collectibles. Topps’ app portfolio, including Topps BUNT®, Topps HUDDLE®, TOPPS KICK® and Topps® Star WarsSM: Card Trader, has been a hit with millions of fans around the world. Topps’ confectionery brands include Ring Pop®, Push Pop®, Baby Bottle Pop®, Juicy Drop ® Pop and Bazooka® bubble gum. Topps was acquired by Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn Partners in October 2007. For additional information, visit and

Media Contact:
For Topps: Joe Favorito/917-566-8345

Can A New American Basketball Venture Succeed In China With help From Yao Ming? It’s A Million Dollar Question…

by Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

The Chinese government has earmarked basketball as one of its key growth sports in the coming years, and with a push at the marketing and grassroots level by the NBA, the sport has never been more popular in the country. NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, Shane Battier and Jeremy Lin have made massive marketing inroads in the country, while Stephon Marbury has made his move to the country bigger than anyone with his

Now another Chinese mega-star, Yao Ming, has lent his hand and his name to another venture, this one based more on the grassroots than on the NBA. It is called The Basketball Tournament (TBT), a winner take all five on five tournament open to anyone who can out together a team in the United States. With a mix of former elite college stars and players with NBA experience, the 64 team field, which concludes in New York with a final Tuesday night on ESPN, has captured the imagination and attention of thousands of basketball fans, and now may do the same for millions in China.

One Monday, the owners of the event announced a partnership with Yao Ming and Starz Sports International to develop TBT China. TBT China’s event will incorporate a fan first, social media driven, open basketball tournament model similar to the one now three years old in the US. China’s winning team will play into the American tournament in 2017, although the winning purse, which is an amazing $2 Million for 2016, has yet to be determined.

“Yao Ming and Starz Sports really are perfect partners to introduce TBT to the Chinese people,” said Jon Mugar, TBT founder and CEO in a Monday press release.. “Our vision of TBT has always been a global event that brings together cultures, styles, and people through social media and the international game of basketball. Ultimately we will have millions of people around the world, both players and fans, actually participating in an annual sports / media event. We are incredibly excited to work with Yao and his team on realizing this vision.”

The importing of Chinese interests into American sport has been booming in recent months, but brining an American event to the grassroots level in China can have its challenges as well as its opportunities. Does it have a chance to succeed?

“The partnership between ‘The Basketball Tournament’ and China is an exciting one with respect to extending the proliferation and growth of basketball in the country beyond the terrific work done by NBA China to the grass roots level,” said Ray Katz, a veteran sports marketer and professor at Columbia University. “This exciting and authentic event has some top U.S sports icons in marketing and production already involved, and Yao Ming’s participation will accelerate its expansion and provide compelling global organic content opportunities for current and future sponsors. Global expansion always is driven by the right partners in each country and in Yao Ming, this event has the best basketball ambassador China has to offer.”

How much will Yao be involved in the running and marketing of the event? All of that is yet to be determined. “TBT is a powerful international platform that leverages the popularity of social media to create unbelievable interaction between fans and their teams. The open tournament format elevates grassroots basketball to a higher level,” he added in a release on Monday.

The goal for TBT would be to use the power of the Yao brand internationally, along with the marketing expertise in country of Starz Sports and “Team Yao, ” to take an American event and tailor it to a Chinese marketplace. If it succeeds will be a multi-million dollar question, but for now, it is a new and intriguing example of how sport, especially basketball, is becoming a sports business unifier for two massive markets which are growing closer every day.

Why Beijing Will Win the 2022 Olympics – and Why It Shouldn’t

All the talk in this part of the world is how China is bound to win the 2022 Olympics, given that its only rival in this two-horse race is so nondescript that many haven’t even heard of it, let alone be able to place it on a map (for the record, Almaty is in Kazakhstan, only a few hundred miles from the Chinese border).

But there is one very obvious hurdle here: this is a Winter Games, and while Almaty was described in the IOC’s evaluation commission report (ECR) as “a winter sports city, with easy access to the mountains and some world-class winter sports venues”, check out pictures from the same ECR of where China’s bid plans to hold the skiing event:

Not a whole lot of snow, right? But China can get very hot in the summer, I hear you cry. The trouble is, these pictures were taken in January of this year, smack in the middle of cold season. Here is another one:

Man-made snow is a necessity at many ski resorts all around the world, but in a country where some have argued that the water shortage could be the largest problem facing China today, think about what would be involved to ship that much water up to these mountains to ensure that the Games would be a success. I have no doubt that China could do it, but it’s not hard to construct a case to vote against China based on environmental concerns alone.

That’s the bad news.

10 sporting questions for the Year of the Monkey

After a breathless few weeks during which the entire sporting world has been talking about Chinese football (with yours truly quoted by AFP three times, FT twice, El Pais, Hicimos, Vice Sports and interviewed by CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera among others), let’s take a look at a few stories that could be cropping up over the next 12 months…

1. Which high-priced foreign import will be the first to flee the CSL?*

Well, you didn’t really expect all these new signings to have a happy ending, did you? The days when Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba left abruptly after not receiving their promised piles of cash may be (mostly) over, but it’s hard to believe all of Alex Teixeira (below), Jackson Martinez, Ramires, Fredy Guarin, Gervinho and others will settle seamlessly into their new teams on the other side of the world.

Brazilian Alex Teixeira arrives in Nanjing after signing for Jiangsu Suning

That’s not to say that they will all disappear next week – Asamoah Gyan and Demba Ba, for example, hardly set the league on fire last year and are still playing in China – but if these players’ agents can attract interest from a serious contender in Europe (and their pay cut is at least softened by a hefty signing bonus), then you have to think there could be some further moves this summer.

Beijing set to unveil new KHL club

China’s winter sports push continues with arrival of professional ice hockey franchise in the capital.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Beijing this weekend and is set to sign around 30 new deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the most interesting of all from a sporting perspective will be fresh details about Beijing’s new franchise in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Russia’s answer to the NHL.

The logo of Beijing’s new KHL team, Red Star Kunlun, was first leaked on Twitter two weeks ago.

The possibility of a Chinese team was first mooted towards the end of last year, but since that time several expected deadlines to finalize details have come and gone with no apparent deal in place. But China Sports Insider has learnt that although details have been in place for several weeks, the official launch of the team – to be known in full as ‘HC Beijing Kunlun Red Star’ (or just ‘Kunlun Red Star’ for short) – has been held until Putin comes to town, so as to make more of a splash with the announcement.


AC Milan’s Chinese saga nears end as rumor mill grinds on

AC Milan is the latest in a long line of European football targets picked out by Chinese investors – and it won’t be the last.

On the football pitch, the Italians are known for a slow, tactical style that, while effective, can bore an opponent into submission.

Off the pitch, it may also be a similar story.

Rumors about a Chinese bid for AC Milan have been dragging on for over a year with flexible deadlines passing without incident.

While Chinese and Italian tabloids have delighted in quoting each other’s speculation – as if that somehow gives their respective reports more credibility – a veritable laundry list of Chinese entrepreneurs has been dredged up in a quest to put a name to the now common “mysterious Chinese consortium”.

Brisbane Heat switches principal partner

Queensland Cricket has sealed a major partnership with member-based financial services provider CUA.

The three-year deal sees CUA replace Linc Energy as principal partner of Big Bash League franchise Brisbane Heat.

Added to the that, the company will be a premier partner of Queensland Cricket and a major partner of the Heat’s Women’s Big Bash League team.

CUA branding will be visible on both BBL and WBBL team’s playing and training uniforms.

Interim CEO of Queensland Cricket, Michael Kasprowicz, said: “We consider this to be one of the most significant partnerships that Queensland Cricket has entered into, and so we are very excited about working alongside CUA.

“Cricket is booming in Queensland and throughout Australia so we look forward to continuing to grow our game with the enthusiastic backing of our corporate partners.”

CUA chief, Rob Goudswaard, added: “This agreement will see our two member-based organisations work together for mutual good by promoting sport, family entertainment and grass-roots community activities.

“While giving CUA a real presence in the sporting landscape in Queensland, this will also help raise CUA’s profile nationally, with some 200,000 people attending Brisbane Heat matches last summer and another 5.8 million tuning in to watch them on free-to-air TV.”

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