BEIJING (AP) — Kobe Bryant has stirred plenty of excitement by joining a Chinese-language microblogging site.
His first message came Friday morning Beijing time, about an hour and a half before Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers were due to play the Clippers.
"Valentine's day sneaks ready to break Clippers hearts. Big game tonight," the first message on his account said.
Sina Weibo verified that the NBA superstar has set up an individual account on its hugely popular microblogging site. Bryant's followers numbered more than 100,000 within hours on Thursday, and by Friday they had surpassed 200,000.
The account came just a few days after a message appeared on Nike Basketball's Sina Weibo account, named Black Mamba, on Lunar New Year's Day: "Hey it's Kobe, I've decided to take over Nike basketball's Weibo handle for a few days and I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year."
Bryant is widely known and extremely popular in China, rivaling hometown star Yao Ming. During the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, billboards of Bryant dominated China's commercial districts.
The Los Angeles Lakers star has several fan pages on Sina Weibo.
One of them — "Home of Kobe" — has more than 200,000 followers. Along with other sites, it posted a welcome message for Bryant. By Friday, it was translating fans' comments into English.
"Hello, Black Mamba, welcome to SINA WEIBO. It's been a long time for Chinese fans to wait for this moment," the page wrote.
Sina Weibo says it has more than 400 million users.