favorite basketball player.hile the Wuhan virus may seem like the biggest story of the year, it has been overshadowed for the moment on Chinese social media by the death of China’s
Kobe Bryant died on Sunday in a helicopter crash north of Los Angeles that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people.
The tragedy has been felt around the globe and no less so in China where Bryant has more fans than anywhere else in the world.
As anyone who has stepped on a basketball court in the country can attest, Bryant is a godlike figure in China. Young and old ballers alike across the Middle Kingdom still lace up his sneakers, wear his jersey, and clank his signature shots (科比!).
A Weibo topic on his death has a mind-boggling 2.36 billion views at the moment, putting it far ahead of any other hashtag, including those about the deadly Wuhan virus which otherwise dominates the social media network.
Millions of fans have left behind comments on Weibo, expressing their love for Bryant, their sadness for his death, and their pledge to follow his example and continue to work hard with a Mamba Mentality. Here’s a sampling of some of the comments:
“Sorry, I can’t accept this. I just can’t.”
“Please tell me this is just a rumor!”
“Kobe has just gone to practice at 4 am in another world.”
“When my son asks me who Kobe is, I will say that it was the man I spent every day and night with before your mother.”
“Everything is difficult at the beginning, but the start of 2020 is just too hard.”
“When I started watching you, I was just a kid. Now, I have my own kid. I am so sorry that you have been taken away from your children.”
“Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.”
Kobe had always cultivated close ties with his Chinese fans, making at least one trip to the mainland each year. His visits would draw tens of thousands of frenzied fans, trying to get a glimpse of the legend. He was always given the full Beatles treatment, able to drive grown men to tears.
And now he’s doing it again, for an entirely different and devastating reason.