Different markets favor different athletes. In China, they're mad for Kobe Bryant, who -- believe it or not -- is far bigger there than he is in the U.S., hosting his own reality show and making an annual cross-country fan tour. "He's Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan rolled into one," says Morningstar's Paul Swinand. Sponsoring him gives Nike cachet with burgeoning middle-class consumers new to the brand -- in a market that's the company's biggest growth engine.
NEXT: Be bold
Last updated February 03 2011: 6:00 AM ET