Kobe Bryant gets Fiba Basketball World Cup 2019 ambassador role in China with Yao Ming
- Bryant announced by Fiba as global ambassador for 2019 tournament in China
- Lakers legend jokingly warns Team USA not to mess things up in viral video
Kobe Bryant has been keeping busy in retirement, and the NBA legend announced his latest project as one of the faces of the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup in Beijing.
The former Los Angeles Lakers and United States men’s national team superstar will help promote the tournament, and will be in China for the first 32-team edition of the event as a global ambassador alongside Yao Ming.
“Growing up in Italy and spending many years visiting China, I have always appreciated the global impact that basketball has had on the positive development of young people,” Bryant said in a Fiba release.
“I’m honoured Fiba has invited me to serve as an ambassador for the Fiba Basketball World Cup 2019. “I hope my participation inspires and motivates the best players from the 32 participating teams to represent their respective country on the world’s biggest stage. I look forward to seeing who will lift the trophy next year.”
The 40-year-old remains hugely popular in China, where is still the most followed NBA player on Chinese social media with more than 6.84 million fans, despite having hung up his sneakers two years ago.
“World, I’ve been watching!” Bryant wrote in a post on Twitter containing a promotional video, which had already racked up close to 200,000 views within four hours. “You want the #FIBAWC? Come and get it in China.”
The Basketball World Cup tips off on August 31, with the competition draw to take place on March 16 in Shenzhen.
“Nihao, China,” Bryant says in the video. “You showed me love. Now show me some game.”
At the end of the video, Bryant jokes: “USA, don’t f*** this up.”
Bryant won five NBA championships over 20 years with the Lakers before retiring in 2016, having also claimed two Olympic gold medals with Team USA.
“We’re thrilled and honoured to have a basketball and sporting legend of Kobe Bryant’s calibre join us in building up to next year’s World Cup,” Fiba president Horacio Muratore said.
“This speaks to the impressive stature of our flagship competition. With a record number of participating teams and as the culmination of the ongoing qualifiers, the Fiba Basketball World Cup in China will be a truly unique event and the sporting fixture of 2019.
“Kobe has proudly represented the USA on the world’s biggest stages, where he’s achieved the highest successes. As such, it’s only fitting to have him take on this role ahead of our biggest-ever competition.”
Bryant has recently been sitting courtside at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles to watch LeBron James and the Lakers, who are 2-5 at the start of the new season.
That’s whenever he’s not too busy coaching his daughter’s middle school basketball team, of course.
He’s also been doing the rounds in US media promoting his new bestselling book, The Mamba Mentality, as well as his scripted children’s podcast series The Punies.
Bryant was also sitting pitchside at Dodger Stadium for game four of the World Series against the Red Sox – though his efforts to gee Los Angeles up weren’t enough as Boston went on to win before claiming the series 4-1.