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Kobe Bryant’s connection with Asia ran so deep, it even affected his name

At a 2013 Lakers preseason game against Golden State in Beijing, the arena rang out with chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” despite the injured super-star not even having suited up for the game.

“For our generation, our memories of the NBA begin with Jordan, and move through Kobe and Yao Ming. You were a part of our youth. Already missing the bright sun of Kobe. Go well,” wrote commentator “ZhanHao” on the popular Twitter-like Weibo messaging service.

“Your willpower has inspired a generation. Thank you,” wrote ‘Teacher Kai Ting’. “I hope there is basketball in heaven. Kobe just went to another world to play basketball with his daughter,” wrote “Cici’s green paper.”

In Taiwan, where the NBA also is an enormous draw, President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted that her “thoughts go out to the Bryant family and the families of all those who lost loved ones today.”

Bryant on a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2006.

Bryant on a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2006. Credit:AP

“Kobe inspired a generation of young Taiwanese basketball players and his legacy will live on through those who loved him,” Tsai wrote.

Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted that Bryant had been a frequent visitor to the Philippines. “He was well-loved by his Filipino fans,” Panelo said in a statement.

“On the hard court, he was a sight to behold with his dexterity and accuracy in sinking that ball in the ring. He was a master of his craft. The basketball world has lost one of its legendary greats,” Panelo said. “The Palace extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, loved ones and fans around the globe who Kobe left behind. We share in their grief.”

The eponymous Japanese town of Kobe famous for its beef.

The eponymous Japanese town of Kobe famous for its beef.Credit:Kyodo News

In Japan, Tetsunori Tanimoto, an official at the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association, in Kobe, central Japan, expressed his deep condolences for Kobe Bryant’s death.

“He helped make Kobe Beef known throughout the world,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday.

Kobe got his name, the legend goes, after his father ate Kobe beef during a visit to Japan and loved the taste.

Tanimoto, who watches NBA games on TV but has never met Bryant, said people know the story about how Bryant got his name.

“We have always felt a closeness to him,” he said. “It is so sad. And we offer our deepest condolences.”

AP

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