Exploring Asia’s Bizarre Basketball Statues


Here in North America, fans often talk the talk when it comes to erecting statues of their favourite basketball players, but in Asia, they actually have the balls to go ahead and do it. And they go big. Here are five sculptures immortalizing NBA players you can see across the continent—and, like many things out east, they appear quite strange to the western eye. You’ll see what we mean.


Photo: Roger Huang

Kobe Bryant
The strangest statues we’ve seen is also one of the newest. According to Lakers Nation, a statue of Kobe Bryant has appeared in Taipei, Taiwan, as part of the Basketball Art Exhibition’s “Conscious 3” exhibit. The roughly man-sized, fiberglass statue is wrapped in a larger-than-life snake (we’re guessing a mamba). It’s seen biting Bryant in his Achilles tendon—the site of an injury that put him out of commission late last year. Several other statues of him exist, including one of him holding a ball outside the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts Sculpture Museum, as well as another in Dubai.


Photo: BallIsLife

Jeremy Lin
Out east, you could say Jeremy Lin is worth his weight in gold thanks to his near god-like status among Chinese fans. Made to suit, a golden-hued statue of the player has been spotted at the same exhibition that put Kobe’s statue on display. It’s much smaller than Kobe’s, standing roughly two feet tall, but no less impressive. In fact, we can’t help but compare the sculpture of Lin to another famous statue. It belongs in a museum!


Photo: Stephon Marbury/Twitter

Stephon Marbury
Former NBA player Stephon Marbury hit the big time when he led the Beijing Ducks to the team’s first-ever Chinese Basketball Association win. The statue was a fan effort. HoopsChina.com started a campaign to erect it, and over one million fans put their support behind the idea. Today, the bronze work depicts Marbury lifting the CBA championship trophy over his head. It’s located at the MasterCard Center, known locally as Wukesong, where the Beijing Ducks call home.


Photo: Flickr

Shaquille O’Neal
He’s one of the biggest players to have played the game, and now he’s also the subject of one of China’s tallest NBA sculptures. First noted in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics by the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke, this massive statue towers roughly 50 feet. It was erected by Li Ning, China’s largest sportswear company, as part of an endorsement deal with Shaq.

Photo: Tim Olson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Yao Ming
Okay, so the fact that there’s a Chinese statue dedicated to the most popular Chinese basketball player of all time shouldn’t surprise anybody. But what you might find a least a little bit unnerving is seeing a full-colour sculpture towering 11 metres (36 feet) over you while you shop. Here, Ming can be seen wearing the country’s Olympic uniform as he overlooks the busy market district in Wangfujing from his perch atop the Dongan Department Store.


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