China still loves Kobe (because he worked at it)

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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.