Kobe Bryant’s presence looms large wherever he goes.
Los Angeles enthusiastically cheers for him after making a game winner, when he labors through injuries and when he gives his infamous glares. He’s dominating the Twitter game, earning the NBA’s Social Media Award, informing fans and the media about rehabbing through his torn left Achilles tendon and offering his unfiltered analysis on all things NBA. And in the latest example that his influence spans across the globe, Lakers fan Eddie Robles showed a few NBA writers on Twitter that Bryant has a statue Chinese province of Guangzhou as shown in the picture above.
That Bryant would have such a monument built in his honor in China should hardly be surprising.
Bryant has visited China for the past seven summers, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics and various stops to promote his Nike brand. His foundation has a program that involves 10 Chinese students going on a five-day cultural exchange program in the U.S. where they visit various L.A. landmarks, interact with students across 37 schools in L.A. county and learn the ancient martial art of Wu Shu, considered the most popular sport in China. The Kobe Bryant China partnered three years ago with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation, a charity backed by the Chinese government, to raise money within China earmarked for education and health programs.
Bryant’s filmed a series of commercials, ranging from ones for Smart Car China and a Sprite commercial featuring Asian pop singer Jay Chou. During the 2011 NBA lockout, Bryant even considered hosting a barnstorming tour as a way to stay in shape, promote the game and make a few bucks along the way. Just for kicks, Bryant scored 68 points in 15 minutes in a charity game.
And with that, Bryant has a decent prototype for his inevitable statue outside Staples Center.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org