It took Kobe Bryant four years to win his first championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, but only one to get his first Academy Award. Yes, you read that right.
On Sunday night at the 90th Academy Awards, Bryant took home his first Oscar for his debut animated short film “Dear Basketball.” Directed by animation powerhouse Glen Keane, “Dear Basketball” is an animated storytelling of Bryant’s now famous Players’ Tribune article announcing his retirement in 2015. Bryant also got the help of Academy Award-winning composer John Williams, who is famous for films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and E.T., to name a few.
Bryant can now add “Academy Award-winner” to his list of already lengthy accolades which includes 18 All-Star appearances, a league MVP trophy, two Olympic gold medals with team USA, and five championship rings with the Lakers. But Bryant told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes prior to Sunday night that his Oscar would mean more than any of his accomplishments as a basketball player.
“It would mean more to me than all the other awards,” Bryant says. “Because it’s not something I’ve ever expected to do. It’s not something I was supposed to be able to do. As a kid, I grow up, I have dreams of winning championships and MVPs and all this other stuff. It’s something that I have in my mind. It’s a goal. Life deals you these cards, injuries happen, things happen, you pivot, and then write something that comes from the heart.
“Then it’s like, ‘OK, I have a passion with this storytelling thing. Let’s do this business.’ Then you blink, and then Glen animates it. Then you blink again, and you’re onstage at the Hollywood Bowl with John Williams. You blink again, and it’s like, ‘OK, he’s getting Oscar buzz.’ Now the train is going. You’re just like, ‘What the f--- is going on?’ It’s not something that ... especially for us athletes, you’re supposed to just really do one thing. You’re not supposed to be able to do anything else.”
Bryant’s off to a good start in his career in film and television and it only promises to get better from here. Who knows? Maybe when it’s all said and done, Bryant will have more Oscars than championship rings.