Chinese fans saddened by the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant Published: 2020/1/27 4:03:40

Kobe Bryant waves to fans after scoring 60 points in the final game of his career against the Utah Jazz on April 13 in Los Angeles. Photo: IC

Chinese basketball fans mourned the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant after news that he died in a helicopter accident hit the internet. "The Black Mamba" inspired hundreds and thousands of China's millennials both on and off the court.  Numerous fans took to social media to praise the athlete, claiming that his spirit will always live on.

The hashtag "Kobe died" ranked at the top of the trending list on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Monday, receiving more than 1 billion views as of Monday morning. The 41-year-old NBA star was killed along with several others in a helicopter crash Sunday in California, CNN reported on Sunday, which shocked and saddened fans across the world.

While fans in the US gathered outside the Staples Center on Sunday to grieve the loss of Bryant, many Chinese fans were in shock, finding it difficult to accept the death of this legendary icon who has also become part of the memories of a generation.

"I grew up watching him play. Because of him, I began playing basketball. He was one of the most relentless warriors on the NBA court," a Beijing-based fan surnamed Hu told the Global Times. 

"I hope this is not true, it's hard to imagine that we lost him forever," he said.

After 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and five NBA championships, Bryant retired from basketball in 2016, but he still woke up before the sun rose to go training at 4 am. His Mamba Mentality lives on even after his NBA days. 

"When I get up in the morning, my daughter goes with me 4 am. My 15-year-old goes with me," Kobe once said, noting that it had become a ritual to teach his children what it means to work hard.

From elementary school to college, Bryant's stories accompanied countless Chinese people and evoked their love for basketball. His outstanding performance, strong will and persistent training made him a superstar among Chinese fans. Although the news of the helicopter crash came out around midnight, many fans left messages on his Sina Weibo account, which has over 8 million fans, paying tribute to one of the greatest sportsmen.

Three days ago, he sent out Chinese New Year wishes in a Sina Weibo post, saying he hopes everyone's new year will be filled with fun and fortune. He also encouraged Chinese fans to live their dream and dare to win.

"I hope it's not true… please, please be OK," a netizen left a message below the post. 

"I can't imagine that the last message you left for your Chinese fans was wishing them Happy Chinese New Year," another one said.

For some fans, it has become a Monday morning full of darkness and surreal feelings, as Chinese people are now not only saddened by the spread of the novel coronavirus that led to the Wuhan lockdown, but also the sudden loss of this NBA icon.  

Global Times


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