The Los Angeles Lakers are headed back to China! On Monday, the NBA announced that the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets will face off in the 13th edition of the NBA China Games in October.
The first game will take place on Thursday, Oct. 10 in Shanghai and their visit will conclude in Shenzhen on Saturday, Oct. 12. Full details for the games will be released at a later date.
The Lakers have a large following in China thanks in no small part to Kobe Bryant, who remains the most followed athlete on social media in China, according to a report by Mailman in 2018, and led all NBA players in jersey sales in China in 2017, according to ESPN.
In fact, Bryant is so popular in China that his fans didn’t know how to feel when LeBron James signed with the Lakers this summer (via Kevin Wang of ESPN):
“I’m not used to it yet,” Yang said while gazing at James, who’s in town as part of his China tour sponsored by Nike.
“At first, we were not so enthusiastic about LeBron coming to L.A.” Yang said as James stands some 50 feet away at center court. “But I’m learning to accept it.”
James wasn’t the only Laker that visited China this summer, though. In June, the NBA sent Kyle Kuzma to China to promote the NBA Finals and support youth development initiatives.
Kuzma expressed his excitement to return to China in a press release on Monday.
“The entire Los Angeles Lakers organization is excited to return to China to play in front of the passionate Chinese fans,” Kuzma said. “During my visit to China, I was absolutely amazed by the fans’ love and excitement for the game of basketball. We would like to thank you in advance for coming out to support us in Shanghai and Shenzhen and I know the atmosphere at the games will be great.”
Of course, that’s going with the assumption that Kuzma is still with the Lakers when October rolls around.
The Lakers are expected to pursue a trade for Anthony Davis this summer, and any package for Davis would likely include Kuzma and one or more of the team’s core young players. There’s also a good chance the Nets look very different next season considering they can clear as much as $41 million in cap space next summer to spend on free agents.
All of this seems like ages from now — because it is — but it could creep up sooner than we think.
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