When all of his fellow gold medalists came home to do the talk-show circuit and try to get in some rest before training camp, Kobe Bryant headed off for his annual Nike-sponsored tour of China.
In the world’s most populous nation Kobe is far and away the biggest NBA star. Look at that photo. He’s insanely popular there.
Why? Because he worked at it with a detailed plan of attack. He was diligent. He was Kobe.
Mark Media of the Los Angeles Times gives us some details about the tour.
This is the seventh summer in a row that Bryant has visited China, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On this trip, according to published accounts, Bryant has hosted training clinics at Jinan in China’s Shandong province and in Wuhan in Hubei province. Bryant attended a charity dinner hosted by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, which raises educational funds for needy children in both China and the United States. And it’s also safe to presume he’ll participate in various events promoting his Nike sneakers.
It’s not just the rings and the skills that make Kobe the biggest NBA star in China. It’s that first sentence from Medina — he has been going there every summer for seven years to host clinics and take part in events. He developed a relationship. He kept himself in front of the Chinese people.
Kobe has done more — he has set up a separate charity in his name that works in China. He has a Chinese-language Web site. He gives back. It’s understanding what is expected in the Chinese market then delivering — not just showing up a couple years and shaking a few hands. It’s about commitment.
Like so many other times, Kobe just out worked everyone and is seeing the rewards of it.
LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.
He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.
Enter Elfrid Payton.
During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.
Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.
That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.
Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.
For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.
In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”
Well, today is that day.
Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.
Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.
This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.
Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.
NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.
Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.
The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.
Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.
My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).
There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.
That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.
Bring on February!
LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.
During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.
The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.
I mean, that’s just … insane.