By Darren Rovell, CNBC.com
Back in September, we reported that LeBron James took a huge image hit thanks to "The Decision," the ESPN broadcast of his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and go to the Miami Heat.
A poll of the general population by The Q Scores Company revealed that only 14 percent of people thought of James positively, while 39 percent of people thought of him negatively. Five months later, the Q Scores show that James has slowly bounced back, though not as much as we might have thought.
As of last month, 17 percent of people see him in a positive light (a 21 percent jump), while the number of people who view him as a negative character dropped six percent (33 percent).
"There was a good drop in the negative number, but it's clearly not a quick fix," said Henry Schafer, executive vice president of the company. "I don't think he'll get back to the numbers that he was at before this year, although winning a NBA title would obviously help."
Winning seems to be important for redemption. LeBron's Heat, who are 48-22, haven't dominated as expected, just as Tiger Woods hasn't won since November 2009, just weeks before details of his infidelity led to his unraveling. Late last summer, 16 percent of people thought of Woods positively, according to the Q Scores, while an astounding 50 percent of people thought of him negatively. Schafer noted that, since he hasn't won, Tiger's Q Score has gone virtually unchanged.
Michael Vick, who had the highest negative score of any athlete at 61 percent of the population, now has a 49 percent negative score, which ties Woods for the worst negative score among athletes. Vick became the Philadelphia Eagles starter, showed some flash on the field and didn't make any major mistakes off of it.
A trip to the Super Bowl didn't help Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger much, as only 19 percent of the population thinks of him in a positive light now. That's compared to 14 percent positive before the season.
Asked by those who read the Q Ratings from the summer, Schafer said the company did polling for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. The two turned out to be just as radioactive as you would expect they would be given the controversy surrounding performance-enhancing drugs and their denials, which landed them in court. Forty-four percent of the population thinks of Bonds negatively, while 37 percent think of Clemens in a negative light.