Lionel Messi Rumors

Basketball players can also take advantage of the global nature of the sport. Bryant has made trips to China the past eight years for Nike and he is one of the brand’s main chips in its battle against Adidas in China. Bryant partnered with Turkish Airlines in 2010 and has been featured in commercials with global soccer star Lionel Messi. James’ Dunkin’ Donuts deal is for Asia only, and he entered into a new partnership with Chinese Internet services firm Tencent last year. These deals are not available to football and baseball players. Soccer players are the only team sport athletes that can compete with NBA players. The top 10 endorsers earned $120 million last year led by David Beckham, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who all made more than $20 million from their partners off the pitch. It also starts with the shoe deal for soccer’s biggest stars. Nike and Adidas pay high seven figures for the players above in their global competition. Messi and Ronaldo are stars in every part of the world and are not limited by geography when cutting endorsement deals. They also have bigger followings than any U.S. athlete. Ronaldo, Messi and Beckham have a combined 161 million Facebook fans. The top U.S. athlete is Bryant at 18 million.
wpid-i_df_ab_7c_kobe_bryant.jpg
Later this month, Bryant will continue to grow his global brand after he becomes the first NBA player to become an NBA ambassador in the Middle East with a trip to Dubai. His global brand has helped him become one of the most recognizable faces in all of sports, so it’s no surprise that his commercial for the Turkish Airlines was the most popular in the Asia-Pacific region – and having Lionel Messi in the commercial probably helped as well. The commercial features both Messi and Bryant competing for a kid’s attention on a plane by performing multiple tricks with a basketball and soccer ball (they also build houses out of playing cards and create balloon animals), but both ultimately lose to the flight attendant who offers the kid ice cream.
Said Simone Sandri, NBA correspondent for Italy’s famed La Gazzetta dello Sport and a former professional soccer player in his country’s Serie B and Serie C divisions with, among others, his hometown club Novara: “If I have to cast my vote, I have to say LeBron. Leo is obviously having another fantastic season, but LeBron, in my opinion, is having a bigger impact. Barca is such a machine that I really believe, for the sake of argument, that they could afford a Messi injury and still reach some of their goals at the end of the season. “It’s hard to imagine the same thing for the LeBron-less Heat. I would have to say that, right now, LeBron is bigger threat to his opponents. Not to put Messi down, but shutting Messi down does not mean shutting Barca down. That’s a team that can hurt you in many ways. Shutting down LeBron doesn’t guarantee you a win over the Heat, either, but it’s a bigger step in that direction.”
For Luol Deng, All-Star swingman from the Chicago Bulls and a lifelong Arsenal supporter who knows precisely how it feels to chase James around a 94-by-50 hunk of wood, it’s Messi. Deng introduces an interesting fresh variable by bringing up Messi’s ceiling, which is indeed higher than LeBron’s because his whole legacy changes in a dramatic way if Argentina wins just one World Cup in his time. “As good as LeBron is,” Deng says, “I have to go with Messi. Because what he’s doing, he’s about to, he’s on pace to (become) the best ever.” Whoever Barcelona’s playing, you’re just interested to watch because Messi’s playing.”
There are natural goal-scoring strikers and Stockton-esque midfield setup men all over the world soccer map, but no one has ever combined those two talents like Messi. Not even Maradona. Which is why a certain Mr. Bryant, self-avowed Barcelona fanatic, chimed in to say that Messi actually has more in common with The Great One than basketball’s Chosen One. “Messi,” Kobe told ESPN.com this week, “is more (Wayne) Gretzky.”
Guess who Kobe’s talking about: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player really at any level in any sport play …” “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player really at any level in any sport play at such a high level of efficiency. He’s just been phenomenal.” Bryant was praising Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. “The year that Messi is having is just off the charts.”
Kobe Bryant has jokingly suggested an exchange deal between LA Lakers and Barcelona involving himself and Lionel Messi. The NBA superstar travelled to Europe this week to shoot a commercial for Turkish Airlines together with the Argentina international, and he would be happy to trade places with the 25-year-old for a week. “It would be fun if I spent one week with Barcelona and Messi played one week with the Lakers,” Bryant told reporters. “What the commercial will be like? Probably Messi will play football and I will play basketball…”
Continuing their trend of seeking to acquire the world’s most superb athletes, the Globetrotters drafted Lionel Messi, the greatest ball handler in the soccer world, and star for FC Barcelona and Argentina’s national team. Hailing from Rosario, Argentina, Messi was the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010, and he has won three Champions League titles and an Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008. Capturing the Globetrotters’ ambassadorial spirit, Messi has also established his own foundation that supports access to education and health care for at risk children, and in 2010, he was named a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.