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MORNING BRIEFING

Kobe Bryant stuck in fourth in popularity contest

For the second year in a row, Bryant was ranked No. 4 in the Harris Poll's annual survey regarding the popularity of sports stars.

July 17, 2009|Mike Penner

In the last 12 months, Kobe Bryant's public image has been enhanced by a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, an NBA championship with the Lakers, a few puppet commercials and a very Kobe-friendly film by Spike Lee. But none of that moved Bryant up a notch in the Harris Poll's annual survey regarding the popularity of sports stars.

Asking fans to list their favorite sports star, the poll placed Bryant at No. 4, same as last year. For the fourth year in a row, Tiger Woods topped the list, followed by Michael Jordan at No. 2 and LeBron James at No. 3.

The NBA led all sports in most athletes appearing in the top 10 with three, including the retired Jordan. The NFL and Major League Baseball were next with two apiece -- No. 7 Peyton Manning and No. 9 Brett Favre for the NFL, No. 5 Derek Jeter and No. 10 Albert Pujols for MLB.

Among female sports stars, Serena Williams and Venus Williams ranked 1-2, ahead of No. 3 Danica Patrick. Sparks star Candace Parker was No. 4, up three spots from 2008, and Mia Hamm rounded out the top five.

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Trivia time

Which are the only two days of the year when no games are played in any of the four major sports?

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Try to do better next year

The ESPYs were held Wednesday night, taped to be aired on ESPN on Sunday, but it's clear the show had some problems.

SI.com's Arash Markazi wrote on a Twitter feed: "The jokes were so bad that they spent five minutes asking the crowd to laugh and clap so they could record it for later use. No joke." Markazi added, "Pretty weak ESPYs this year. The teleprompter broke twice during the opening monologue, leaving Sam Jackson to kill time on his own."

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Three shows might do it

As part of his monologue on Wednesday night, David Letterman noted that Paul McCartney was in New York to perform two concerts at Citi Field.

Letterman quipped, "The reason he's doing the two shows at Citi Field, home of the Mets, is that he hopes from those concerts to raise enough money to buy a couple of tickets to go see the Yankees. Good luck with that."

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Trivia answer

The day before and after baseball's All-Star game.

(Question and answer provided by Frank Wells of Fountain Valley.)

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And finally

St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame member Stan Musial, 88, explaining to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was once a 3-handicap in golf: "Yeah, woods, irons and putter."

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mike.penner@latimes.com

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