When news of the NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s death broke on Sunday, January 27th, 2020, his death was mourned around the world, especially in China. Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death shows how he was beloved to the nation.
The hashtag about Kobe Bryant’s death (#科比去世#) on Sina Weibo had accumulated about 6.5 billion views by February 3rd. The fatal coronavirus, which started in Wuhan has ravaged China since, had dominated the Chinese social media for the past week. However, Kobe Bryant’s death on Chinese social media still reached to the top of trending searches and temporarily buried discussion about the coronavirus.
[Source: Weibo ‘Kobe Bryant’s death’]
Kobe Bryant was the primary ambassador of the NBA in China
Some reviewers think Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death is even stronger and wider than in his home, the United States. Kobe Bryant has had a good reputation in China for a decade. In fact, Bryant’s jersey was the biggest-selling in China, eclipsing even Yao Ming‘s.
Kobe Bryant established the Kobe Bryant China Fund, which donated supplies and raised money for education to poor children with the support of the Chinese government. In the United States, the fund sponsored Chinese cultural programs, such as Mandarin-language lessons.
What are Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death on Weibo?
Bryant was also generous with his Chinese fans. Two days before his death, he posted a Lunar New Year greeting video on his Weibo, wishing a happy new year (“Xin Chun Kuai Le”) to his “dear friends in China” and thank you for their support, which has had 146,250 replies by February 3rd. Most of the replies could not accept the fact of Bryant’s death.
[Source: Weibo ‘Kobe Bryant’s Lunar Year greeting video’]
Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death is continuing. Many young Kobe Bryant’s fans in China see Bryant’s death as the end of youth. Bryant is the permanent memory of youth of the post-80s and post-90s generation. For basketball fans who missed the era of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant was their Michael Jordan and their legend. Bryant is a distinct icon of the NBA. Kobe Bryant’s fans in China said that, even if there would be a second Kobe Bryant, they could never chase after youth.
Sean, who ranked the #8 rapper in China tweeted on Weibo, said: “‘The way to make art more accomplished is to make it disappear under the attention of everyone.’ I believe that your death is an act of God. Your life has brought us a lot of persistence and strength. It is time for you to take a good break in heaven. I will continue to chase my dreams like you once. R. I. P, my legend.” Sean’s Weibo is a representation of Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death and speaks the hearts of Kobe Bryant’s fans in China.
[Source: Weibo ‘Goodbye, my legend’]
What deserves to be mentioned is that even the Chinese state media, the Communist Party Mouthpiece People’s Daily honored Bryant: “His fearless spirit, both on the court and in real life, is worth cherishing. (不惧风雨的奋斗精神，不论是篮球还是生活，都值得铭记)”
[Source: Weibo ‘Kobe Bryant’s spirit is worth remembering’]
Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death spiked search engines
[Source: Baidu Index ‘search index of Kobe Bryant’]
Concerning the data of Baidu Index, it shows that Kobe Bryant related searching rose dramatically from January 27th, straight after the death of Bryant, and the search index is still higher now than before the helicopter crash. Kobe Bryant’s death on Chinese social media is still being discussed. Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death are not only belonged to his fans in China but also people want to know him more and people who regret not knowing him earlier.
Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death on WeChat
[Source: Wechat Index ‘search index of Kobe Bryant’]
Data from WeChat Index, which is derived from the communication and information-sharing software WeChat in China, shows the similar search frequency trend of Kobe Bryant as the Baidu index. The news of Bryant’s death was explored in WeChat ‘moments’. Many Kobe Bryant’s fans in China posted friend moment on WeChat to mourn Bryant. Some fans even changed their avatars to a photo of Bryant and Bryant’s daughter, Gigi, like what Bryant’s wife, Vanessa did. The relevance of Kobe Bryant’s death on Chinese social media shows the true impact he had on Chinese society. There was also a trend of girls who are not interested in basketball also mourning Bryant for their boyfriends.
A Chinese question-answer forum (Zhihu): shows us what Chinese netizens think of Kobe Bryant and his death
[Source: Zhihu ‘what do you think of Kobe Bryant’]
On Zhihu, there are 27,097 followers and 2.6 million views of the discussions about what people really think about Kobe Bryant.
(This answer has about 30,000 upvotes)
(This answer has about 27,000 upvoters)
[Source: Zhihu ‘what do you think of Kobe Bryant’]
Kobe Bryant will be missed in China
The answers are unified. Chinese reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death on Zhihu are shocked and sad. Chinese NBA fans grew up with Bryant in the spotlight and thought would grow old with him as well. They believe Bryant would be forever young, and he would challenge God in heaven. They confirmed his honor, but what they cherished more was his spirit, diligence, enthusiasm and willpower.
Kobe Bryant’s death on was deafening. Bryant boosted popularity and reputation for the NBA in China. Kobe Bryant’s fans in China described him as a “real man” and a “real fighter”. They adore him, learn from him, and they will always miss him.
“The superstar went down, goodbye Kobe Bryant, goodbye our youth.”