Kobe Bryant is Beatles during the British Invasion level popular in China.
A decade ago, before other stars had recognized the market, Kobe was putting in the time there. Sure, he won titles and that helped, but he started going over to the country every year before it was fashionable. He set up a personal charity just in China. He showed a commitment to the country; he was not just some guy flying in to hawk shoes.
The result is his popularity is enormous. During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing LeBron James and other Team USA members — men used to being treated like rock stars — were taken aback by Kobe’s popularity in the country.
In the end, that means Kobe can hawk a lot of shoes in China. And other products as well.