Originally posted on Obsessed With Sports  |  Last updated 7/19/12

Floyd Mayweather, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Alex Rodriguez. What do they have in common?

They are all divisive personalities. In fact, if you look at that list, you could literally think it’s a list of the most hated athletes on the planet today.

Well, ironically, that isn’t where I got this list of names. It happens that these are also currently 5 of the 6 richest athletes, as compiled by SI. The ironic part is that it isn’t their salary that puts them atop this list — it’s the endorsement deals.

I’d think that endorsement deals go to the affable, likable athletes. And, for the most part, they do. There is often some connection there. However, it seems there is a give and take between likability and pure talent. Really, when it comes to compensation, talent can replace likability, based on the income of these 5 athletes. if you are talented enough, likability almost goes out the window.

Maybe the top-tier of athlete can only achieve so much likability anyway. This could potentially be related to the “killer instinct” cliche we hear.

I think about it as some version of a production possibility frontier. Example:

Work with me here. Maybe in this example the green dot on the blue line could be Kobe Bryant. His likability to talent ratio leans a bit to the talent side, for example. The green dot on the red line could be Dwight Howard. He has achieved less total likability and has less talent. However, Howard falls more towards the likability side, rather than talent.

The five names listed above are rather extreme examples of the most disliked athletes today. Four of the five made Fox Sports’ April list of the most hated athletes. And it isn’t surprising.

Mayweather is assaulting someone every other week, and making it rain in some nightclub every other night. Not likable to mainstream America. Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant cheated on their wives. Not likable to women and much of America. LeBron James is the athlete anti-christ according to much of this country. And Alex Rodriquez may have murals of an “A-rod centaur” in his house. Need I say more?

In the end, maybe it pays to be a bit of a dickhead. That allows you to concentrate less on pleasing people, and more on your craft. LeBron essentially stated this (not quite in those words) after winning the NBA Finals this past June.

Looking at that list of names also reminds me of another LeBron quote. This one from June 2011:

All the people that were rooting for me to fail… at the end of the day, tomorrow they have to wake up and have the same life that (they had) before they woke up today. They got the same personal problems they had today. And I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things I want to do.”

While the majority of Americans root against Mayweather, Woods, Kobe, LeBron, and A-rod, these athletes have built personal brands. They have converted their talent into empires.

Forget pleasing the masses. It’s clearly more lucrative to just say **** it, do you, and be the best at your particular craft. If you are the best, you will be needed and wanted. The money will follow. This is true in “real life” jobs, too. It’s not only in the world of athletics.

Everyone has worked with someone who is a ****** co-worker. However, this tends to be a reason that person is kept around. They do their work. And do it well.

And guess what — they are probably compensated for that, too. While the nice guy goes under the radar and  is passed over again and again. So put up that centaur self portrait in your office and let everyone know how great you are. It worked for these guys.

[via SI]

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