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LA Lakers, Kobe Bryant to Play Preseason Games in China

The Los Angeles Lakers will play the Golden State Warriors in China during the 2013-14 preseason as the NBA looks to bank on Kobe Bryant's popularity in China.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Lakers’ Kobe Bryant speaks during a meet and greet with fans at Jinan University on July 29, 2010 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China. The NBA announced the Lakers will play two games in China prior to the 2013-14 season, and Bryant's popularity in China is seen as a driving factor for the NBA’s choice.

    The Los Angeles Laker will be one of eight teams playing games outside of the United States during the 2013-14 preseasons, the NBA announced on Tuesday.

    The Lakers are slated to play two games against the Golden State Warriors in China -- one in Beijing and one in Shanghai.

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    [LA] Dwight Howard Discusses Kobe Bryant's Dunk Over Him - Lakers
    Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers talks about Kobe Bryant's dunk over him back when he was a rookie with the Orlando Magic.

    The first game will be held on Oct. 15 at the MasterCard Center in Beijing. The game in Shanghai will be held on Oct. 18 at the Marcedes-Benz Arena.

    Current Lakers Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard played in China with Team USA at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Pau Gasol also played in Beijing with the Spanish national team.

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    [LA] Dwight Howard Imitates "Xena" OKC Thunder Fan - Lakers
    Dwight Howard imitates a notable Oklahoma City Thunder fan who would make Xena-like sounds when the Los Angeles Lakers were shooting free throws. Shot at Los Angeles Lakers practice on March 4, 2013.

    And the Lakers are not the only team traveling to Asia. The Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers will also travel to the Far East and play games in Manila, Philippines, and Taipei, Taiwan.

    The NBA is also playing three preseason games in Europe with Istanbul, Bilbao, and Manchester getting a close look at the increasingly international players and marketing strategy of the NBA.

    Mike D'Antoni At Lakers Practice

    [LA] Lakers Practice Video Coach Mike D'Antoni
    Video of Coach Mike D'Antoni addressing the media at Los Angeles Lakers practice in El Segundo, Ca on March 2, 2013

    Turkey and Spain currently boast two of the more established professional leagues outside the United States, and England has long been a point of focus for the NBA’s global appeal due to its relative geographical proximity to the East Coast of the United States.

    In the past, Commissioner David Stern was even thought to be considering strategies to start a new NBA team in London.

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    Metta World Peace discussed his reputation of being a 'dirty player' and explained why he plays with toughness. Shot by @shahanLA on March 2, 2013.

    While those thoughts seemed to have passed, the NBA is happy to continue its global expansion by sending teams like the Lakers to massive markets like China.

    Bryant, who garnered the most public attention of any athlete during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, recently made headlines when he signed up for a popular Chinese social media micro-blog.

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    [LA] Metta World Peace On Flagrant Fouls, Dwight Howard
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    Bryant has also made multiple trips to China, and he is likely a driving factor as to why the NBA chose the Lakers for the trip.

    The preseason trip to China should serve to further grow Bryant’s personal brand while simultaneously expanding the global marketing reach of the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA.

    Business-wise, the Lakers’ trip to China makes sense for most everyone involved.

    The NBA is also targeting South America during the 2013-14 preseason, with one game scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    The Chicago Bulls will take on the Washington Wizards on Oct. 12. Nenê, Washington’s Brazilian center, is likely one of the driving reasons the NBA chose the Wizards to go down to Brazil.

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