The game of basketball has steadily turned into a world-wide sport, picking up steam over all the continents and countries on the globe. With the National Basketball Association at it’s peak in terms of fandom, player recognition and star status now stem outside the United States, with players like Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry having worldwide tours.
Throughout his 20-year career, Bryant steadily progressed into an offensive assassin, earning the respect of fans all the way in China. As part of his Nike tours, Bryant would fly out to China and be greeted by a sea of fans who all want a chance to bask in his glory.
Now that the 18-time All-Star has drifted into retirement, Curry has taken over in his absence. The Warriors actually eclipsed the Lakers in terms of merchandise sales this season, but Bryant remained the most famous athlete in China up until June 2016, according to ESPN.
However, Curry recently cemented his status as the official top-selling jersey in China, via Connor Letourneau of SFGate.com:
In addition to Golden State eclipsing the Lakers in team merchandise sales in the country this season, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has dethroned Kobe Bryant for China’s best-selling jersey. This comes a day after news surfaced that Curry had the best-selling jersey stateside for the second-straight year, and Golden State maintained its spot atop team merchandise sales.
The Warriors participated in games over in China during the 2008 and 2013 seasons, bringing some familiarity of the organization to the fans in China. In fact, the Warriors are slated to participate in two games during the offseason in China, as a part of the 2017 Global Games. Curry’s seemingly limitless range and offensive arsenal provide a splashy style of play fans enjoy watching.
Curry has followed in Bryant’s footsteps in terms of touring overseas, participating in an Under Armour-sponsored tour this past offseason. Curry, a two-time MVP, eclipsed Bryant as the top-selling jersey in the latest updates from the NBA store in China, holding a lead over Bryant, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
With the Warriors now in the midst of the playoffs, fans over in China get to watch their attempt at a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, to catch their second championship in three seasons. Curry put together a 2016-17 campaign with averages of 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists, shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 41.1 percent from three-point range.
Although Bryant now has ventured into businesses outside of basketball, he is still in coordination with Nike to release new shoe projects following his retirement. With many fans idolizing his Kobe model shoes, expect there to be releases of the Kobe 12, and possibly 13, sometime in the near future. With that being said, Bryant will likely continue to conduct his overseas tours into different countries, paying tribute to the fans that have supported him during his historic journey.