Beijing, China – Kobe Bryant joined China ‘s leading social media network earlier this week, and already has 100,000 followers – despite not typing a single word.
Bryant has joined microblogging site Sina Weibo, a network often described as the Chinese Twitter. The NBA star’s presence on the site has been verified as authentic by the Weibo service.
Kobe‘s new Sina Weibo account was opened just days after a message from Bryant appeared on Nike Basketball’s own Weibo account:
“Hey it’s Kobe, I’ve decided to take over Nike basketball’s Weibo handle for a few days and I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year.”
Bryant is a hugely popular figure in China, where the NBA and Chinese star Yao Ming both have a large following. As well as there being several Kobe fan pages on Sina Weibo, the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing saw Bryant’s face appear everywhere on billboards.
Sports Illustrated describes how one of the biggest fan pages, “Home of Kobe” (which boasts 200,000 followers) has encouraged Bryant fans to leave comments for the basketball legend and offered to translate some of the remarks. The page reportedly wrote:
“Hello, Black Mamba, welcome to SINA WEIBO. It’s been a long time for Chinese fans to wait for this moment.”
With 400 million users, Sina Weibo has become increasingly popular with western celebrities and sports stars.
However, not everybody sticks around. Brad Pitt, who signed up for the service in January, has since seen his verified account mysteriously disappear. Many pundits believe Pitt has been banned from the service due to his film Seven Years in Tibet, which has already seen the star barred from entering China itself.
To understand what China thinks about Kobe Bryant, please see the footage below: