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Basketball icon Kobe Bryant becomes FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 global ambassador
BEIJING, China (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019) - Former NBA and USA national team superstar Kobe Bryant on Wednesday was revealed as a FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 global ambassador.
Over the course of a stellar 20-year career, Bryant won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and two Olympic gold medals with the USA. He is widely considered to be one of the best players in basketball history and among the world's greatest athletes.
His popularity in China is second to none and this is reflected by the fact that he ranks as the most followed NBA player on Chinese social media, where he has some 6.84 million followers.
Bryant joins Yao Ming in becoming an ambassador for basketball's biggest competition.
As a global ambassador, Bryant will help promote the World Cup and take part in activities on the Road to China 2019 as well as at the first-ever 32-team edition of FIBA's flagship competition.
"Growing up in Italy and spending many years visiting China, I have always appreciated the global impact that basketball has had on the positive development of young people," Bryant said. "I'm honored FIBA has invited me to serve as an ambassador for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. I hope my participation inspires and motivates the best players from the 32 participating teams to represent their respective country on the world's biggest stage. I look forward to seeing who will lift the trophy next year."
FIBA President Horacio Muratore welcomed the latest FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 global ambassador.
"We're thrilled and honored to have a basketball and sporting legend of Kobe Bryant's caliber join us in building up to next year's World Cup," he said. "This speaks to the impressive stature of our flagship competition. With a record number of participating teams and as the culmination of the ongoing Qualifiers, the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China will be a truly unique event and the sporting fixture of 2019.
"Kobe has proudly represented the USA on the world's biggest stages, where he's achieved the highest successes. As such, it's only fitting to have him take on this role ahead of our biggest-ever competition."
Announcing Bryant as a global ambassador is the latest in an impressive list of exciting activities taking place ahead of the World Cup. Previous ones have included: unveiling Yao Ming as the first ambassador; revealing the competition's logo and mascot; the start of the World Cup Qualifiers to determine the 31 teams joining hosts China; and marking 1 year to the start of China 2019 with the presentation of Tissot countdown clocks in all eight host cities.
Before the competition tips off on August 31, more activities and milestones will take place, including the launch of the Trophy Tour and the competition's draw on March 16, in Shenzhen.
FIBA (fiba.basketball) - the world governing body for basketball - is an independent association formed by 213 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognised as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).