In Welcoming LeBron James, China’s Lakers Fans Have a Choice To Make
Shanghai’s Rucker Park has beautiful energy, and hundreds of Lakers fans made to the indoor basketball gym. What brought them together? LeBron James.
The crowd chanted “Lakers for championship,” and there was this longtime purple-and-gold supporter. Yang Kun found himself in a huge dilemma. The Lakers fans will have to make a decision.
Kun is a devoted follower of Kobe Bryant. He’s been praising the Black Mamba since 2004, and now he wears the new No. 23 Lakers jersey. He was one of the very few in the crowd. Remember how China’s Lakers fans viewed LeBron as Kobe’s archenemy.
“I’m not used to it yet. At first, we were not so enthusiastic about LeBron coming to L.A. But I’m learning to accept it,” Yang said while watching LeBron. King James is in China as part of his tour sponsored by Nike.
Many Chinese grew up watching Bryant on the basketball court. They’re not used to see James wearing a Lakers jersey. Some of them deal with an internal conflict and a sense of self-betrayal. Really?
Even Kobe Bryant gave his support for King James. But, the nation still fuels the rivalry between LeBron and Kobe. Of course, there’s no such rivalry, and that’s just an invented battle.
Some fans lean towards Bryant’s skills and talent, while others appreciate James’ presence. Each player has specific virtues, and there’s no way of comparing them.
Will Chinese change their mind, and welcome LeBron?
“There are several camps of Kobe fans in China. There are those who are loyal exclusively to Kobe, but they might not be the majority,” said Sway Hung, executive editor overseeing NBA coverage at Tencent.
According to Hung, those who fell for the Los Angeles Lakers because of Kobe Bryant, can’t really find a way to get over his retirement. But, there are also groups who are willing to accept King James. “If LeBron can deliver a title to the Lakers, he will not only solidify his historic status, but also revive the glory of purple and gold. At the end, this will be a happy place for all Lakers fans,” he said.