Fans in China who love Kobe Bryant still getting used to rooting for LeBron James
There’s a new great wall in China, and it’s one that’s not tangible nor is made to stave off Mongolian invaders. Instead, it’s an abstract divide that cuts right through the middle of the country’s basketball-loving population, with one side being filled by LeBron James supporters and the other occupied by diehards of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
It’s been over a month since James chose to start the next chapter of his basketball career in Hollywood, but Chinese Lakers fans continue to struggle grappling with the reality that the player they used to loathe so heavily because of his rivalry with Bryant is now a member and leader of their beloved NBA team.
Kevin Wang of ESPN talked to a Chinese fan of both Kobe and the Lakers, Yang Kun, and got a better picture of how extremely conflicted the nation is now that LeBron James is finally a part of Purple and Gold nation.
To Yang and many who grew up watching Bryant through his prime, getting used to seeing James in a Lakers jersey is a twisting experience, fraught with internal conflict and an inescapable sense of self-betrayal.
In a nation that arguably hosts the largest number of Lakers fans in the world, the Kobe vs. LeBron battle is still being waged. Rather than a turf war between two camps of fans, it is a clash between two schools of thought, or tastes for aesthetics.
It’s going to take some time before James gets full appreciation from these confused Los Angeles fans, but if he could bring a title to Tinseltown, it surely would help him get the recognition that he currently is not getting from them.
Maybe win two more and he could be in line for a statue in L.A., at least that’s what ex-Laker Devean George thinks.