Kobe Bryant was named global ambassador for the FIBA 2019 basketball World Cup in China.
Bryant and former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, who leads the Chinese Basketball Association, are the top representatives for the event.
Bryant announced his role via Twitter.
A five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Bryant visited China multiple times for branding and marketing events during his playing career. He also visited China not long after announcing his retirement from the NBA.
The basketball World Cup is a 32-nation tournament played from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 in eight different cities.
Bryant’s role as global ambassador includes promoting the World Cup and leading activities on the Road to China 2019.
Former NBA and USA national team superstar will be a global ambassador for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the governing body for basketball announced on Wednesday.
Over the course of a stellar 20-year career, Bryant won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and two Olympic gold medals with Team USA.
He is widely considered to be one of the best players in basketball history and among the world’s greatest athletes.
His popularity in China is second to none: he ranks as the most followed NBA player on Chinese social media, where he has some 6.84 million followers.
Bryant joins Yao Ming in becoming an ambassador for basketball’s biggest competition.
As a global ambassador, Bryant will help promote the World Cup and take part in activities on the Road to China 2019, as well as at the first-ever 32-team edition of FIBA’s flagship competition.
“Growing up in Italy and spending many years visiting China, I have always appreciated the global impact that basketball has had on the positive development of young people,” Bryant said.
“I’m honored FIBA has invited me to serve as an ambassador for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. I hope my participation inspires and motivates the best players from the 32 participating teams to represent their respective country on the world’s biggest stage,” added the Los Angeles Lakers icon.
“I look forward to seeing who will lift the trophy next year.”
FIBA president Horacio Muratore welcomed the latest FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 global ambassador.
“We’re thrilled and honored to have a basketball and sporting legend of Kobe Bryant’s caliber join us in building up to next year’s World Cup,” he said. “This speaks to the impressive stature of our flagship competition.”
“With a record number of participating teams and as the culmination of the ongoing qualifiers, the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China will be a truly unique event and the sporting fixture of 2019,” he added.
“Kobe has proudly represented the USA on the world’s biggest stages, where he’s achieved the highest successes. As such, it’s only fitting to have him take on this role ahead of our biggest-ever competition.”
Announcing Bryant as a global ambassador is the latest in an impressive list of exciting activities taking place ahead of the World Cup.
MORE ON KOBE BRYANT
Kobe Bean Bryant (born August 23, 1978) is an American former professional basketball player. He played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships with the Lakers. Bryant is an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team. He led the NBA in scoring during two seasons and ranks third on the league’s all-time regular season scoring and fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. He holds the NBA record for the most seasons playing with one franchise for an entire career and is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Bryant is the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons.
The son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, Kobe Bryant enjoyed a successful high school basketball career at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the country. He declared for the NBA draft upon graduation and was selected in the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, who traded him to the Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and he was named an All-Star by his second season. Despite a feud between them, Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault in Colorado, but the charges were eventually dropped, and a civil suit was settled out of court. After the Lakers lost the 2004 NBA Finals, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat. Bryant became the cornerstone of the Lakers, and he led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. In 2006, he scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points scored in a single game in league history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. Bryant was awarded the regular season’s Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in 2008. After losing in the 2008 NBA Finals, he led the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, earning the Finals MVP Award on both occasions. He continued to be among the top players in the league through 2013 when the 34-year-old Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Although he recovered, his play was limited the following two years by season-ending injuries to his knee and shoulder, respectively. Citing his physical decline, he announced that he would retire after the 2015–16 season.
At 34 years and 104 days of age, Bryant became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history on February 1, 2010, when he surpassed Jerry West. During his third year in the league, Bryant was chosen to start the All-Star Game, and he would continue to be selected to start that game for a record 18 consecutive appearances until his retirement. His four All-Star MVP Awards are tied for the most in NBA history. At the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, he won gold medals as a member of the U.S. national team. Sporting News and TNT named Bryant the top NBA player of the 2000s. In 2018, Bryant won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball.