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Kobe Signs Deal With Chinese Web Site

Thursday, 15 Jan 2009 | 11:35 PM ET

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with Chinese Web site Sina.com today. It gives Bryant his own site on the news portal, which will include a blog that Bryant will update multiple times a week.

AP

"During the Olympics in Beijing, Kobe had a handful of companies to consider for his first deal with a China-based company," said his agent Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports. "Sina came to Kobe with a vision and Kobe saw it as a way to stay in touch with a huge fan base. He feels passionately about the people and culture of China and having been there as much as he has, those feelings are authentic."

Bryant, who might have edged Michael Phelps as the most popular non-Chinese Olympian while in Beijing, has the best selling jersey in China and is the most searched NBA player on Google in Asia. Not only are there 300 million basketball fans in China, there are 298 million people online in China, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

The announcement comes a day after Oppenheimer analyst Paul Keung dropped his price target on Sina, traded on the NASDAQ, from $32 to $25 "to reflect tougher market conditions." Keung said the company's advertising revenue will likely suffer in the economic downturn.

Seems like they are fine enough to sign this deal with Bryant, which I think will be a good one if both sides live up to their side of the bargain.

Knowing Bryant as I do, I know he'll keep up with his site. Too often, athletes sign these types of deals and just abandon them weeks later. Bryant won't do that.

As a news portal, you often stand out with speed and technology. Will the Bryant deal alone make for better business? Not necessarily. But all Sina wants is the opportunity to grow. Bryant gets them in the door more than almost anyone in the world can. Now the folks at Sina have to make sure they don't rely on the signing alone to drum up hits. They have to make sure people know that Bryant is now on their team.

Sina closed on Thursday at $21.19 a share.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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