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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.