OKC Thunder In the news: Westbrook and Anthony on ESPN World Fame 100 list

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MARCH 23: Paul George #13, Carmelo Anthony #7 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the OKC Thunder stand on the court during the game against the Miami Heat on March 23, 2018 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MARCH 23: Paul George #13, Carmelo Anthony #7 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the OKC Thunder stand on the court during the game against the Miami Heat on March 23, 2018 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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On Tuesday, May 22nd, ESPN released their third annual World Fame 100 rankings. The list compiles the 100 most well-known athletes, using three defining factors. Check out how OKC Thunder players fell.

For the past three years, ESPN releases their World Fame 100 ranking in the month of May.  As per ESPN three criteria are used to pare down and rank the initial 600 sports stars.

"To find the 100 most famous athletes in the world, we started with 600 of the biggest names in sports, drawn from 68 countries. ESPN’s Sports Analytics Group then ranked them based on a proprietary formula that took into account three fame factors."

Specifically, the formula accounts for (internet) search score, endorsements and social media followers. If the athlete utilizes several social media platforms the panel uses the one with the most followers.

Each year at least one OKC Thunder player has made the exclusive list. Given the sheer number of  athletes in the world for any OKC Thunder player to crack the top 100  is impressive

This year is no different as Russell Westbrook (34) and Carmelo Anthony (43) each received a spot on ESPN’s list. Paul George did not make the cut, which is puzzling since the criteria includes endorsement deals. PG has deals in place with Nike and Gatorade.

Moreover, Westbrook is a no-brainer to make the list given he just averaged a triple-double in back-to-back seasons and has numerous endorsement deals. Melo is a bit puzzling as well given his age and decline as a player. However, this is world rankings, it’s not exclusively an NBA ranking. Perhaps being a former all-star and presumed future hall of famer has a lot of pull internationally.

Other highlights from the list:

13 NBA players made the cut in 2018, holding serve with last year where 13 NBA players were selected. While 13 players are still good it’s far below the 20 players who made the inaugural 2016 World Fame 100 ranking.

Outdoing the NFL

The NBA has quickly become the NFL’s biggest rival while the NFL has struggled with National Anthem and concussion scandals the NBA has thrived. This list is yet another example of how the NFL is struggling. They had seven of their athletes make the list. In contrast, the NBA had 13 of their players make the list.

The NBA nearly doubled the number of players included on the list when compared to their NFL rival. To break it down further the NBA had four players in the top-10. The NFL had zero players in the top-10, in fact, the first NFL player on the list appeared at 38.

This list takes multiple factors into account, a large disadvantage for NFL players is they are in helmets and pads. Another disadvantage NFL players had to deal with was strict cleat rules. Until August 2017 the NFL did not allow players to wear custom cleats. In contrast NBA athletes essentially have the freedom to do as they please with their sneakers.

Furthermore, Some NBA players shoe deals exceed their actual team contract. Such as Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James.

Another advantage NBA players have over their NFL counterparts is getting to market their face and showcase their personality on the court. NFL players do not have that luxury because they get hidden behind their face mask and pads while on the field.

Championships help placement

Although not included in the criteria perhaps winning a title improves the search score portion of the rating. However, that could vary for each individual. Take injured Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving for example, in 2016 he was not included on the inaugural list.

Irving was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, in June he and his Cavaliers captured the Larry O’Brien trophy. Since then Irving has not placed outside the top-30, ranking 27th this season.

In conclusion, championships are not the end all be all on this list as eight out of the 13 NBA players named to the list do not have titles. Including former OKC Thunder player James Harden and current Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.

Next: Russell Westbrook Season Review - Twice in a lifetime

This list is quickly becoming a late spring tradition for fans of all sports, I will certainly look forward to how things shuffle around in the fourth edition next May.