SHENZHEN, China — Kyle Kuzma and I are sitting next to the court inside the Lakers’ practice facility as he describes his growing business portfolio in China. There is the fast food chain that puts him on billboards next to the words “King of War” and an image of him dunking on a fried chicken sandwich. There is the sponsorship deal with an iced tea brand.

It’s the first Thursday in October, and in four days Kuzma and the Lakers will fly to China, where Kuzma is one of the latest stars to ride the NBA’s popularity in China to build his personal brand. He has two more endorsement deals with Chinese companies he plans to announce while the Lakers are in Shanghai, the continuation of a plan he hatched early in his rookie season during his now-famous dinner with Kobe Bryant.

“I asked him a lot of questions over that night,” Kuzma says. “One of them was about China, how he approached it and how he got into it. Not only for basketball but just…



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