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Outside the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts’ Sculpture Museum stands the seemingly misplaced statue of Bryant, dressed in his Lakers uniform with a basketball under his arm.
The 15-time NBA All-Star has made annual trips to the hoops-obsessed country to meet fans, host camps and appear in various television commercials. During the 2011 NBA lockout, Bryant even entertained the idea of joining the Chinese league.
The sculpture park at the Guangzhou Academy features ancient and contemporary cultural figures, so it’s not too surprising that the shooting guard would be immortalized in this location.
And it’s not the first statue of an NBA superstar in China — a sculpture of Shaquille O’Neal graces a park in Beijing.
Stateside, a seven-foot-tall statute of Chinese film star Bruce Lee was unveiled in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. The statue, created by an artist from Guangzhou, commemorated Chinatown’s 75th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of the martial arts movie star’s death.