Thank you Kobe, say Chinese fans in countdown to retirement
Updated: 2016-04-13 19:55
By Chen Bei(chinadaily.com.cn)
Western Conference forward Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the second half during the NBA All Star Game at Air Canada Centre, Feb 14, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
The seemingly voluntary goodbye initiative, however, is more than a spontaneous feeling as tides of a huge commercial market patiently await the NBA legend.
Waves of thankful posts flooded Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging service in China, with a catchy new hashtag #ThankYouKobe# surging to the top five trending topics as of 5:30 pm Wednesday. The subject has attracted more than 300,000 comments, with 140 million readings.
"Bryant is part of my best youth memory which represents passion and hardworking honors," says Weibo user ailanqiu (Chinese for "I love basketball").
Western Conference forward Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers blows kisses before the NBA All Star Game at Air Canada Centre, Feb 14, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
Chinese celebrities, ranging from entertainment, business, and sports, also joined in to thank Kobe.
"Thanks for everything you've done for basketball! Giving us more inspiration! Salute," posted Chen Chien-chou, a famous TV presenter from Taiwan. Chen was a former professional basketball player in Taiwan and Singapore.
Bryant became popular among Chinese basketball in the early 2000s. Most Chinese high school and college students loved him and made him an icon for his famous lines, "I have decided to skip college and take my talent to the NBA."
Byrant is said to have nearly matched Michael Jordan's six NBA championships, finishing with five. In his early 20s, rookie Bryant was given an affectionate Chinese nickname, "xiaofeixia" (meaning adorable flying swordsman) for his fleeting speed and flexibility on court.
Fans created content for Lakers star career peaks, posting his most memorable images. Bryant is an 18-time NBA All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the NBA All-Defensive team.
At 34 years old, he became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He is also the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history.
Kobe Bryant looks at a sword prented by Li Yifeng, one of China's most famous actors and pop idols on Los Angeles, Feb 12, a day before the NBA icon officially retires. [Photo/Weibo]
Among the immense amount of love posts, there came hoaxes that make light jokes about the legend's retirement.
A post with the hash tag #ThankYouKobe writes in the form of a company's official notice saying the employees are allowed to have a day's leave to watch Bryant's retirement game. And that the company will organize its employees to learn from Kobe's professionalism and combatant spirit.
Besides fans' emotional support, business promotions are also revved up.
One of China's most famous actors and pop idols, Li Yifeng, posted photos of him meeting with Bryant. He presented Bryant with a sword that he used in a TV costume drama, which drew comments that he was just promoting his drama.
Kobe Bryant memorabilia are also being promoted on social media.