Kobe's on the ball

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 September, 2006, 12:00am

Mr 81 is coming to Hong Kong and he wants to play ball.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant will visit Hong Kong this week as part of his 2006 summer Asia tour.

Bryant scored an astonishing 81 points in a match against the Toronto Raptors last season. After the game, his teammates began calling him '81'.

The Philadelphia-raised phenomenon, who holds eight NBA and 30 Lakers records, will arrive in Hong Kong from Tokyo tomorrow for a two-day visit.

He will make charity appearances on Wednesday morning, and visit sports shops in Mongkok to promote the new Kobe 1 shoes.

The highlight of his visit will be at 4.30pm the same day. Bryant will take part in a basketball clinic for 400 fans, mostly Nike Youth League participants, at Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Shaw Sports Complex in Hunghom.

The sponsors of the event said Bryant will take questions from fans who can show off their skills to the NBA star. He will leave for Taiwan on Thursday morning. Other stops on his tour include Seoul and Beijing.

'I'm really looking forward to my trip, meeting kids, hosting clinics and having some fun playing the game of basketball,' Bryant said ahead of his Asian tour.

'Having support from my fans in Asia has inspired me. And for me to get an opportunity to return that favour by flying to Asia and embracing them is exciting.'

Off the court, Bryant believes in helping the community.

During his visit, he will participate in charity donation ceremonies.

'Basketball is such a big part of my life, but it pales in comparison to what you can do once you step off the court,' he said.

'Once you're a basketball player, you're a role model, and there's a great opportunity to inspire, help and guide others. I enjoy that and am blessed to be able to do that.'

Outstanding local junior players who will meet the Lakers guard at the clinic include Lo Yi-ting and Lee Kiu-fung.

'I've always admired his great moves, skill and his never-give-up attitude,' said Kiu-fung.

'Meeting him in Hong Kong will be a great opportunity for me to learn from one of the best players in the world.'

For Yi-ting, it is the second time he will be meeting an NBA star this summer, after he shook hands with LeBron James in Hong Kong last month.

'Meeting two great players like LBJ and Kobe this summer is a dream come true,' said Yi-ting. 'Their visits have inspired my game. I think they have succeeded because of their great attitude. I want to ask him [Bryant] how he could score 81 points in an NBA game.'

Fact file

Kobe Bryant was on fire last season:

His 81 points versus Toronto was the second-highest in NBA history behind the legendary Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962.

Bryant became the first player since 1964, and

the only NBA star besides Chamberlain and Elgin

Baylor, to score 45 points or more in four

consecutive games.

Bryant also set single-season records for the Lakers for the most 40-point games (27) and most points scored (2,832).

Career highlights:

Three-time NBA champion: 2000, 2001, 2002

NBA scoring champion: 2006 (35.4 points per game)

Career 40-plus point games (regular season): 67

His NBA records include:

Most three-pointers made in one game (12), and most consecutive three-pointers (9), January 7, 2003, vs Seattle SuperSonics.

Most free throws made (one quarter): 14