5 Professional Athletes China Absolutely Adores
Hello Fellow Americans,
We’re a nation that loves our professional sports, aren’t we? From baseball to basketball to football to hockey and beyond, we just can’t get enough. We’re crazy for sports!
It’s not just us, though – trust me. Ever wonder which professional athletes are among the most celebrated across the pond? In China, to be specific? Yes? Maybe? No? Well, there’s no time like the present to find out.
I’ve happily taken it upon myself to provide you with a list of five of China’s most popular pro athletes. Please note that most of the athletes I mention are not actually Chinese; they just have a huge fan base over there. This list is one I have compiled from my time spent over in China. The following information is all based on personal experience, nothing more.
Most of the athletes on here – four out of five, to be exact – are basketball players. These basketball players are all current or former NBA players. A lot of familiar faces make an appearance on this list, just so you know. It’s possible you’ll even see YOUR favorite player on here.
Now, are you ready? Then scroll down and get to it. Enjoy!
No. 5 Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin has been in the NBA for eight seasons now. The point guard is most famous for garnering the nickname “Linsanity,” which occurred during an incredible but short-lived span of NBA games that saw him make national headlines for his outstanding plays on the court. That year, in 2012, he burst onto the national scene and made a name for himself as a starter for the New York Knicks.
Lin’s brief tenure with the Knicks made him a news sensation and helped to launch his pro career, which has since seen a big drop in stardom. While Lin is no longer a “thing” and has never been an All-Star, he has remained in the league as a journeyman. He currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets.
Although Lin is an American, his Asian ethnic background has sparked a sense of pride in NBA fans of Asian ethnicity, both in the United States and China.
No. 4 Yao Ming
Yao Ming was born in Shanghai and was the first-ever Chinese NBA player. He spent his entire NBA career with the Houston Rockets, the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2002. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
Yao is well represented and beloved in China, as you can imagine. He played an integral role in making basketball as popular of a sport in China as it is today. I saw tons of pictures of him while I was in Beijing; I felt like the city was trying to ensconce me in them.
No. 3 Stephen Curry
I mean is there anybody who doesn’t like this guy? Seriously. The MVP-caliber fan favorite appears to be just as popular in China as he is in the U.S. His legion of devotees – both stateside and overseas – is worth noticing. So, guess what? I noticed.
Steph’s 3-point shooting ability is, of course, the stuff of legend. It’s got EVERYBODY talking. China’s talking about it, too.
No. 2 Lionel Messi
Hey, I mean soccer is the world’s most popular sport. So popular, in fact, that it’s not even called “soccer” everywhere else – it’s actually called “football.” Now, let’s talk about Lionel Messi.
As perhaps the biggest star of the world’s biggest sport, Messi is major – period. Like not just major in China – but everywhere. As of December 2017, the stud from Argentina had played in 396 league games, scoring 362 goals during that span. He has also won eight league titles and a record-tying five Ballon d’Or Awards throughout his polished pro career.
Like I said, Messi is major. So major, in fact, that the next athlete on this list is even a well-known fan of his.
No. 1 Kobe Bryant
The man. The myth. The Black Mamba.
If you think YOU love Kobe, think again. China absolutely ADORES him.
The future Hall of Famer spent his entire 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is the only player in Lakers franchise history to have not one but TWO numbers retired in his honor. His greatness is rivaled by few but recognized by many.
From items of clothing to just casual conversations about sports, “Kobe” is a name that is sure to pop up over and over again while you’re in China. His omnipresence across the globe is undeniable.
(*Note: This list is in no particular order. However, it is influenced by my own personal observations and who I perceived to be the top-five most-popular pro athletes among people in China.)