Asia Minute: Asia Remembers Kobe Bryant

Jan 28, 2020

Reaction is still pouring in from around the world about the death of former basketball star Kobe Bryant. And that includes some special attention from the Asia Pacific.

Kobe Bryant visited China sixteen years in a row – up to and including last year.

He was on a Chinese reality TV program back in 2008 — "Kobe’s Disciples.” And was also familiar to Chinese TV viewers through many commercials.

The South China Morning Post reports Bryant started his first Chinese social media account in 2009 — the year after he captained the U.S. Olympic team that took the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

On Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, the death of Kobe Bryant was the single most searched subject Monday morning. It had more than twice the search results as the runner up: confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.

In the Philippines, crowds swarmed to a tribute at the Araneta Coliseum in metro Manila — one of the largest indoor arenas in Asia, and a place where Kobe had played in exhibition games.

Basketball is hugely popular in the Philippines — home to the first professional basketball league in Asia created back in 1975. 

Rappler.com reports Bryant made his first trip to the Philippines in 1998.

Elsewhere in metro Manila, a new basketball gym opened in Valenzuela City just hours before Bryant’s helicopter crashed — already carrying the name “The House of Kobe.”