For the last couple of years, Kobe Bryant has developed a great relationship with the people of Asia as a result of his “Kobe Asia Tour” and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He is by far the most popular athlete in Asia and even has a statue in China.
LeBron James is currently in Manila for a promotional event for Nike Philippines and to no one’s surprise, has already been compared to Kobe.
Although James has won two consecutive championships and Finals MVPs, the Philippines aren’t too fond of him and praise Kobe for his efforts to connect with fans.
According to Sports Interactive Network Philippines, James isn’t outgoing and refuses to take pictures or sign autographs with the fans:
“He’s a snob. When you go near him, even if you haven’t said anything, he’s quick to tell you, ‘No pictures, no autographs.’ So we never really wanted to get close to him in the first place.”
These fans tried their best to understand that James is on a tight schedule and doesn’t have enough time to interact with the fans, but praised Kobe for trying to fit in and accommodating his fans:
“Kobe’s charisma is on another level. He knows how to fit in. When he isn’t doing anything, he accommodates those who want a picture or autograph. If not, he knows how to decline politely.”
It’s no surprise that Kobe is the most popular athlete in Asia because there is mutual respect. The fans really appreciate all he has done and in return, Kobe has always tried his best to connect with them. Like James, Bryant doesn’t have to go out of his way to interact with his fans but his efforts likely stem from how he is received in the United States these days.
In a time when the media at home is praising LeBron for his accomplishments (which are well-deserved), they simply try to find ways to disrespect Kobe and what he’s done in his career. The people of Asia view him as a living legend while the media here somehow wants to twist that two rings are better than five (and sometimes even six).
The unfortunate truth is that people will finally come to appreciate Kobe like they do in Asia when he walks away from the game — and that’s a shame.
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