Kobe Bryant has a real shot to add Oscar-winner to his extensive resume at Sunday’s Academy Awards. The retired Los Angeles Laker is nominated for his short animated film Dear Basketball, which is based on an entry he wrote for The Players’ Tribune in 2015 with the same title when he announced his retirement.
“I’ve always been told that as basketball players the expectation is that you play. This is all you know. This is all you do. Don’t think about handling finances. Don’t think about going into business. Don’t think that you want to be a writer — that’s cute,” I got that a lot. What do you want to do when you retire? ‘Well, I want to be a storyteller.’ That’s cute. This is … a form of validation for people to look and say, ‘OK, he really can do something other than dribble and shoot.'”
Bryant teamed up with animator Glen Keane, whose past works include Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty, and the Beast.
Keane is a 38-year veteran of Walt Disney Feature Animation and trained under Walt Disney’s 9 Old Men. In a recent interview, Keane said “I am a movement nerd. My son Max played basketball and I constantly sketched during his games. There’s a rhythm I already knew.”
Keane’s son Max Keane served as production designer on “Dear Basketball,” and initiated its storyboarding process, including the complex images of Bryant as a boy rolling his dad’s socks into a makeshift basketball. “We filmed Kobe showing us how he did it,” Glen Keane said.
The Keanes and producer Gennie Rim teamed with Bryant to watch a video of his games with the Los Angeles Lakers frame by frame.
“I can remember what it felt like in certain situations,” Bryant said. “From years of studying game films, you condition yourself to remember little details.”
“Dear Basketball” will be competing in the category against “Garden Party,” “Lou,” “Negative Space,” and “Revolting Rhymes.”