Kobe Puts on a Show in China
In just 15 minutes of play in a charity basketball game in China, Kobe Bryant managed to drop 68 points.
Hoopsvibe's Quick Call: While the competition wasn't much to write home about, that's still a lot of points in a short period of time.
It was the latest appearance in a promotional tour Bryant has been on in China. Kobe, like Michael Jordan, is treated like a basketball god in the far east, and often tours there, participating in various clinics and charity events.
It all happened at the Sprint China Second Annual Charity Basketball Game in Shanghai over the weekend.
The game, which was more of a charity event than actual competitive play, was comprised of a mix of Chinese celebrities including pop stars, actors and tv personalities. (So obviously, it probably wasn't too difficult for Kobe to score). The game consisted of two 15-minute halves, and while Bryant didn't play in the first, he played in the second in an effort to excite a crowd that was pining to see him step on the court.
Not to mention, Kobe's team was down 29 points at the end of the first half and needed some help from the Black Mamba.
And help they got. Bryant, who said he "took the challenge of really using the second half as a training session," scored all 68 points in the second half and won essentially won the game for his team.
"I didn't want to disappoint them or the fans that had paid their hard earned money for a show," Kobe wrote on his official Facebook page. "I ran and ran and ran. I wound up scoring 68 in the 2nd and we won."
Granted, it was all in good fun, and if you watch video of the game you'll see that not much defense was played whatsoever. Regardless, you could tell it was still great for the fans and the sport of basketball, especially in China where the game's popularity continues to grow.
The NBA's China initiative has been in the making now for the past 30 years. NBA China, which formed in 2008, currently employs 140 people in various Chinese offices and as of today, over 300 million Chinese citizens play the sport. (Forbes online)
It's popularity there has turned into quite the business. Forbes.com reported that tv viewership was up 21% this past season. Also, with players like Yao Ming and most recently Jeremy Lin creating a buzz in the U.S., the NBA's and China's relationship is getting stronger exponentially.
So as long as Kobe can keep scoring 68 points in charity games, the business of basketball and the NBA in China will only continue to get better.
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Image source: WENN Images.