In lieu of preparing for the 2010 FIBA World Championship with Team USA (sigh), Kobe Bryant has been visiting China this week as part of a promotional tour the locals are calling “Kobe 24 Live.” (Read: Kobe’s in Asia hocking basketball shoes.)
Putting in an appearance yesterday afternoon at 4.20pm in Changchun, Kobe signed a few autographs and dutifully commented on all things basketball for an adoring public – nothing unusual there.
However, what was unusual – and o so gratifying for fans of European basketball – was Bryant’s shout-out to The Continental method of developing players. From an English-language story running this morning from China’s national press agency Xinhua, Kobe was a bit fancifully quoted through a translator and back again, but the message on several topics was quite clear.
On what other countries need to learn from NBA and American basketball system, Kobe gave a surprising answer, and he said: “I believe that the system works best right now is not the US system, I believe it is the European system. Because they develop basketball players, and they teach them the skills. I think the European system has jumped over US system.”
Now one might argue that this is the viewpoint of an American baller who never played the college game in the ‘States, but might not David Stern & Co. (not to mention the NCAA) take this as a little constructive criticism…? BallinEurope has personally felt for at least a decade that the U.S. is crying out for a proper minor-league basketball system.
Xinhua went on to note that Bryant, “Before leaving his fans here […] said ‘I Love You’ in Chinese, and this shocked all the people there.” Kobe has been called “arguably the most popular NBA star in China, rivaling even Yao Ming.”
Kobe will continue the tour by taking his multilingual talents to Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Chengdu.