USA Basketball has announced Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, was named the global ambassador for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Tuesday.
As ambassador, Bryant will help promote the World Cup and take part in activities leading up to the event. Bryant joins former Houston Rockets’ center Yao Ming, who became an official ambassador for the event in 2016, as an ambassador for the event.
“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,” said FIBA President Horacio Muratore. “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.
Bryant has had a star-studded career in both the NBA as well as in Olympic play. The 40-year-old future Hall of Famer spent 20 years in the NBA, all with the Lakers, won five NBA championships and was named an All-Star 18 times. In addition, he won two Olympic gold medals with the USA while compiling a 26-0 overall record. However, never received a medal from FIBA Basketball World Cup competition.
The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will begin Aug. 31, in China. This is a smart move for FIBA in naming Bryant as a global ambassador as he is the most followed NBA player on Chinese social media (6.84 million followers) according to FIBA. Bryant couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to be one of FIBA’s global ambassadors and hopes that he becomes motivation for the team’s competition in the World Cup.
“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.”