NBA (National Basketball Association)

Kobe Bryant still leads the way for NBA on Chinese social media but Jeremy Lin, Golden State Warriors on the rise

Golden State Warriors are the most popular NBA team online in China while LeBron James leads jersey sales, but it’s retired Kobe Bryant who reigns supreme

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2018, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2018, 3:11pm

Kobe Bryant remains the most popular NBA player on Chinese social media despite playing his last game in April 2016, the second annual Red Card Report has revealed.

The survey of Chinese social media was conducted by Shanghai-based sports agency Mailman for the year between September 1 and August 30 this year.

Jeremy Lin and the Golden State Warriors were declared 2018’s big winners.

Lin, now of the Atlanta Hawks, is the most popular of active NBA players with 5.4 million followers on Sina Weibo behind only Bryant’s 6.6 million.

The Taiwanese-American also launched the most popular channel on video app Douyin last year.

The former New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets star also fronted the NBA’s Lunar New Year video for a fourth straight year and was declared the active player with the best engagement, but he still lags behind Bryant.

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Even in retirement, Bryant has continued to grow in popularity and the announcement of his Oscar win for animated short film “Dear Basketball” was the individual social media post with the most engagement.

Behind Lin, Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry is the second most popular active player, with the top five fleshed out by Li-Ning sponsored Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.

Lin, Curry and Wade all made China visits in the last year, as did Bryant for the 15th year running.

Curry’s NBA champions are again the most popular team in China, with three times more engagement than other teams, down from six times in 2017.

That downturn is because other teams have stepped up their social media presence in the country.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the second most popular, Yao Ming’s former team the Houston Rockets are third, with Bryant’s and now LeBron James’ LA Lakers fourth and the San Antonio Spurs fifth.

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The Dallas Mavericks are the highest moving from last year, up to sixth after owner Mark Cuban took over China social media strategy.

Their campaign to find a new Chinese name had the largest engagement and fans will cheer on the “lone ranger heroes” instead of the “little cows” when they play Shenzhen and Shanghai in the NBA China Games in October.

NBA teams have more than 60 million followers combined in China. This makes it the most popular sports league online.

But the Warriors and the Toronto Raptors (4 million followers) lag behind Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Arsenal when it comes to the most popular sports team.

As individual players, basketballers are outperforming their footballing rivals.

Curry, who has over 3.2 million Weibo followers is more popular than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the platform.

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In jersey sales, the Warriors lead the way in a top five that closely reflects the most popular teams online.

The Cavaliers, Lakers and Rockets are joined by the Chicago Bulls.

Both the Warriors and Rockets had Chinese variations of their jerseys available this year, while the

Chicago Bulls are a popular team with the older generation who grew up watching the NBA on CCTV since the mid-80s but are not as active online.

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Visionaries! Mr.LiNing & Mr.Wade

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For player jerseys, Curry is the only one of the most popular players online to make the top five.

James leads the list despite having no official social media presence in China.

James Harden of the Rockets, Curry’s teammate Kevin Durant and Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving are also in the top five.

Now James, who has 41.5 million Twitter followers, has moved to the Lakers, maybe Bryant will advise him to build his China presence.