Kobe Bryant has long ruled the NBA’s booming global market, which is being felt more than ever throughout his legendary retirement. Spending much of his childhood in Italy and making trips to China every offseason, Bryant’s worldwide pull is no surprise – but the numbers will still shock you.
A whopping 20 percent of Bryant’s total sales throughout April on Fanatics.com have come from outside the United States. Nearly half of that is from China and Hong Kong, the latter of which is Kobe’s second-most popular market behind Los Angeles.
April provides the perfect opportunity to compare the Black Mamba’s global reach with Stephen Curry, basketball’s new dominant force whose Golden State Warriors just broke 73 wins. In April sales, the Los Angeles Lakers star sold products in 87 different countries, just barely edging out Curry’s 86. The Black Mamba holds a decided edge in Asia and Europe, but Curry has a slightly larger reach in South America and Africa.
While their global maps cover much of the same territory, Kobe made sales in Thailand, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, Curry beat out Kobe by selling products in Peru, Guyana, Kenya, Greece and Cambodia. Global reach, indeed.
Even with MLB’s Opening Day this month, Bryant absolutely dominated China’s overall sales. Kobe Bryant products alone have accounted for more than 38 percent of China’s total sales on Fanatics.com throughout April.
As LeBron James once said during Team USA’s 2008 trip to the Beijing Olympics, “I thought I was famous until I got here with Kobe.”
Curry’s international breadth is growing along with his game. His sales in April have accounted for 12 percent of overall Stephen Curry merchandise sold on Fanatics.com, with our neighbors up north in Canada (where Curry spent three years as a teenager while father Dell Curry played for the Toronto Raptors) and friends down under in Australia as his top-selling countries outside the USA.
For an American player whose total merchandise sales on Fanatics.com are up more than 300 percent this season compared to last year’s MVP run, such a large chunk of sales outside the U.S. just might put him in line to be basketball’s next premier global icon.
Nobody will replace the global footprint that Kobe Bryant left on the game of basketball. And like many legends, his merchandise will continue to sell long after he hangs his sneakers up for good. But novelty breeds excitement, and the euphoria surrounding Curry has reached far beyond America’s borders.
Given the NBA’s continued investment in their global brand, Curry’s growing popularity abroad should only continue as he keeps breaking records.