This week the world suffered a tragic blow with the passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the other 7 people aboard the helicopter. We’re only now starting to see the impact Kobe had on so many people all over the world. In China, the impact has been just as powerful.
For us at Mailman he was adored. We began working with Kobe and his loyal team 5 years ago, it started with consulting on his digital strategy and quickly evolved to supporting his many aspirations in China. Kobe came in at an important part of our journey, we were still growing, building our mentality and striving for excellence. His trust gave us confidence to persist, continually do more and be a leader. Personally I was inspired to be the best. For Cate, his primary lead with us, was transformed. She, like me, yearned to be better, and Kobe was our muse.
In just the past 2 years he created and published 3 books, the first ‘The Wizenard Series: Training Camp’, the second ‘Legacy and the Queen’ and the third ‘Epoca: the Tree of Ecrof’- each with a view to inspire the younger generation to live their best selves. The foundation of his stories combining his love of sports and fantasy were unique. After 20 years in the NBA he was invigorated with his new calling and was likely to achieve similar success in the creative fields.
Kobe was a unique athlete to work with. Unlike many stars of his calibre he was personally across all projects. He took meticulous care in making decisions for his brand, who he partnered with and made decisive decisions when needed. When in China he made time to meet charitable causes, adoring fans, potential business associates and existing partners - it was always a packed schedule and he didn't miss a beat.
In China he was something else. The biggest sports icon in the mainland, he reigned supreme across China’s largest social network Weibo, beating out all international stars across the globe. Kobe personified Chinese values of family, work ethic and the success that comes with that. Each time he visited there were armies of fans, screaming and chanting ‘Kobe, Kobe’. There were equal numbers of men and women flocking to see him, Kobe had no limit - he was an icon for everyone.
A few years ago I joined Kobe at a private event in Hong Kong where he dazzled a room filled with Asia’s most influential entrepreneurs. The guests paid top dollar to experience an evening with him. They were all hugely successful; there were billionaires, family money and tycoons from across Asia. They were in awe of Kobe as he told story after story of his approach to the game of basketball and business.
Towards the end of the dinner I invited guests to sit with him at the table for a brief chat. Many guests were nervous when asked to join, some shied away, preferring to look from a distance. Others welcomed the invitation and sprang into action. Always respectful, he ensured everyone was greeted and heard. Following the dinner a line began as the guests requested selfies with their idol. I asked them if they could be patient as he gets through everyone, I’d never seen such patience in these people. So there they were, billionaires lining up for a selfie with Kobe Bryant. For those guys Kobe was the epitome of success the right way, he worked hard his entire life, put more hours in than most and was disciplined throughout his career. He wanted to be the greatest of all time. Nothing less. He was never lucky, he was never given anything, it was all hard work. His smile reflected true satisfaction in knowing that everything he’s now afforded was earned. Everyone in that room wanted that smile.
We thank you Kobe for inspiring us all to be better, on showing us love and devotion to your family and for giving us a playbook for success. May you rest in peace.
How China Reacted
Tencent’s Interactive Memorial Hits 5m Participation The official digital partner of the NBA in China paid tribute to Kobe with a dedicated H5 and memorial page portraying his incredible career, famous quotes, and a highlight reel of his Top 10 plays. The page has already been viewed almost 5m times - Link
Weibo Tops 10b Views For Kobe Trending Topics Weibo basketball is running the hashtag #致敬24# in collaboration with NBA China, as well as a dedicated Kobe page - currently 5.4+ million views and counting. Total exposure on Kobe topics on Weibo reached over a huge 10 billion - Link
Kobe Fan Messages of Love & Support
Top fan comments, from the top down - Link
“This was the poster of him in my dormitory”
“4am today, 8.24km today, it’s for you Kobe!”
“There might be another Kobe in the future, but we will only experience our own youth with him once.”
“Once a Kobe fan, a lifetime as a Kobe fan.”
NBA China Airs 50-min Kobe Special The NBA China changed all the Top Plays of the Day to Kobe (top assists, top dunks, etc), ran a 50-min special episode of NBA Study Hall, published a locaslied version of his 81-point game. NBA’s China’s official website published many articles and started a photo series (24 pictures per day recapping his 20 seasons in the NBA) - Link
CCTV Publishes Memorial Posts to Icon The largest free-to-air network in China, China Central Television News (CCTV) published multiple memorial posts to remember the icon who influenced generations of Chinese people - Link
People’s Daily Posts 8 in a Row China’s state central media the People’s Daily published 8 posts in a row to mourn and remember Kobe, and highlight the positive influence he continuously had on China’s youth. He remains the only NBA player be honored on this state central media from his retirement to anniversary, and then to winning an Oscar - Link
Zhang Weiping Delivers Fan Booklet to Staples Center The famous basketball commentator printed out the booklet which contained more than 20,000 fan comments dedicated to Kobe. The booklet was taken to LA and placed at the signing wall outside the front of the Staples Center - Link
Yi Jianlian Remembers Important Lessons From Kobe China’s basketball team captain Yi Jianlian and Kobe both suffered similar injuries during their playing career. Jianlian recalls how he was inspired by Kobe’s resilience to come back and fight so soon after his injury. Jianlian was amazed by Kobe’s willingness to get back on the court the next day after the injury, while it took Jianlian 6 weeks - Link
Sun Yue Pens Emotional Blog to Kobe Former Lakers teammate Sun Yue spent time playing together with Kobe together for the Lakers. The pair built up a strong bond together which Sun Yue reminisces about in his long post to Kobe. Sun Yue fondly remembers the time they spent together off the court, and how he saw Kobe as his mentor - Link
Mamba Mentality Helped Ma Long Pull Through Injury When injured and facing some dark days, table tennis legend Ma Long would watch and read about Kobe, remembering how inspired he became through the determination and passion Kobe demonstrated in every aspect of his life - Link
Jay Chou Recalls Recording Music with Kobe China’s most famous popstar Jay Chou used to record songs with Kobe together in the studio. He put together a memorial on Instagram Stories to demonstrate his respect for the legend.
Lang Lang Records Kobe’s Grammy Memorial Video The world-famous Chinese pianist was a special guest at the Grammy Awards Ceremony. He posted this video of the memorial celebration from his seat, reaching almost 7m views. Lang Lang also performed at the Grammys Show - Link
Kobe’s CNY Post Hits Over 1.3m Likes On Jan 24, Kobe sent a happy Chinese New Year message to his almost 10 million fans on Weibo. The message received an incredible response with more than 54k shares, 140k comments, and over 1.3m Likes. Kobe remains the most popular basketball player there has ever been on Weibo - Link