Kobe Bryant Speaks out on Why Chinese Fans Worship Him as a Hero

BEIJING — The hero being worshipped understands the why and the how of it.

Kobe Bryant gets that the drive and perseverance he has demonstrated as a basketball player resonate with a Chinese culture that's all about dutiful work ethic and individual responsibility.

But more than anything, Bryant feels the where of it.

This is China, where the world is not free. Where the simple escape outlet to see a movie is limited to what the Communist government allows. Where uniting the world through Twitter or Facebook and the freedom to search Google is denied. Where you are allowed to have only one child.

When Bryant in basketball can be as liberated as he is while working as hard as he does, the impact in China becomes something he likens to the wonderful free ride that music takes us on in America.

“I think it strikes a chord with the fans out here,” Bryant said Monday in a quieter moment after nearly being trampled by Chinese reporters rushing to his first media access of the NBA Global Games. “It’s something that inspires them.”

In China, they have their reasons to be holding out for a hero till the end of the night.

“Fans (in the U.S.) have kind of gone through this progression of hero marketing,” Bryant said. “They kind of lived through that in the ‘80s with Michael and Magic and kind of having the fanaticism. Now I think it has evolved with so many media outlets. It has evolved to something beyond that where we’re a little bit more desensitized by celebrities. Out here, not so much.”

Under the oppression of Communist rule, they still aren’t footloose. So Bryant to them is much like Jordan was to us.

“It’s harder for me to walk around here than it is in the States,” Bryant said. “The States, you get a lot of recognition—'Hi'...

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