Kobe Bryant Returns from His "Worship The Swoosh" Asian Tour

Patrick MauroAnalyst IAugust 1, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  A detail shot of the shoes of Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Was Kobe’s week on the other side of the world for anything other than proselytizing the good message of the swoosh people and selling Nike gear on that large continent?

At least it wasn't lauded as some great humanitarian effort.

And now it’s over.

Amazing the transformation of the Kobe Bryant brand. Is it the power of PR or the ridiculously short attention span/memory of the 21st century human being?

The development of a human brand—the cultivation, the promotion—is almost brilliant to watch.

Tiger Woods is the best example, and he's always done the right thing. He’s always protected the brand. No scandals. No assaults. No estrangement from his family. Probably why he’s the highest endorsement earner.

Kobe has not always protected the brand so well, but the amazing thing is he went from rape case defendant and the loser of many of his endorsements all the way back to the top.

This year, Kobe is second on Forbes Magazine's list of the world's highest-paid athletes with $45 million, second only to Tiger and tied with Michael Jordan.

Which makes some sense. Since so much was already invested in the Kobe brand, it wasn't allowed to die when trouble came its way.

Kobe originally was an Adidas guy. Anyone still sport the Equipment KB 8—Kobe’s first signature shoe?

He signed with Nike right before the rape allegations and it was two years before the swoosh people used Kobe’s image in ads. Now he’s got his own puppet.

And he pimps Vitamin Water and Guitar Hero.

And is the last guy they show smiling in those NBA Cares commercials.

He never got the Nutella endorsement back.

This trip was all about spreading the good word of “Buy Nike. Buy Nike. Buy Nike.” He unveiled the Nike Zoom Kobe IV Beijing and the Nike Zoom Kobe IV Finals the last day of the tour.

He finished the clinics by tossing signed basketballs and T-shirts into the crowd, then autographing the shoes he wore and giving them to two fans.

A man's sweaty shoe. Sweet. One sweaty shoe. Thanks.

It's like Michael Jackson giving away a glove after a show.

That wasn’t considered a bad reference until just recently. Get it, bad.

Along with LeBron (the other guy with a puppet), Kobe is the face of the NBA and has become one of the most recognizable athletes/people in the world. The power of PR.

What international athlete could bring out these types of crowds in America?

David Beckham hasn’t.

Usain Bolt wouldn’t.

Then again, there aren’t quite as many people here.

I once saw the Dalai Lama at the University of San Francisco’s Memorial Gym (the Dons hoops court). There were nowhere near the amount of people for the Lama as showed up in Asia to see Kobe.

Maybe basketball is the international religion. Or maybe it’s Nike.

Wonder if more people would recognize “the swoosh” or the crucifix?

LeBron or The Lama?

Kobe or the Pope?

Maybe that’s not a fair question. The Catholic Church, as of late, hasn’t done the greatest job in the world protecting their brand.

But the Kobe-brand is thriving, here and abroad and quite possibly in a distant solar system many galaxies away.

Listen this Saturday to Patrick Mauro’s Sports Overnight America Weekend from 10:06 p.m. to 1 a.m. PDT and hear Bleacher Creatures:

Glenn Franco Simmons discussing Brett Favre and Michael Vick

Justin Hokanson talking SEC College Football Media Day and Heisman Trophy Favorites

Andrew Nuschler on MLB deadline deals

You can call the show at (800) 878-PLAY (7529)

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