The late and great NBA legend Kobe Bryant had an unparalleled career on the basketball court, but he had plenty of accomplishments off the court, too. Perhaps one of the most notable achievements of his post-basketball career was Dear Basketball, an animated short film that’s just under five minutes long.
Awards and Recognition
This powerful little film won Kobe an Academy Award. Incidentally, this is the first Oscar won by an athlete. In addition to winning an Oscar, the film won numerous other awards, including Best Traditional Animation by The World Animation Celebration in 2017.
Dear Basketball also won the Annie Award, which is the animation industry’s most coveted and prestigious prize.
The film tells the story of a little boy who lives out his basketball dream. As the animator says:
“It’s through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible.”
Here’s a video of the award being presented to Kobe.
Released for Free Viewing….At First
Right after the incomparable Kobe Bryant died on Sunday, the film was released so that fans could watch it for free. However, it’s since been pulled from the internet. We’re not sure why. Maybe Granity Studios is trying to figure out a way to monetize it?
This annoys me a bit. Fans are grieving, and the studio releasing Dear Basketball was a smart and empathetic move. However, pulling it down was a jerk move. I can’t imagine it was pulled at the direction of Kobe’s family, but if so, THAT I will respect. Absolutely. Perhaps we’ll learn more about the motivation behind this move in the coming days.
The Kobe Bryant Dear Basketball Trailer
In addition to pulling the video down from the website, the studio is aggressively getting it pulled down from sites like Vimeo and YouTube. We found a copy of the film that someone uploaded to YouTube and we’ve embedded it at the end of this article.
They may get it pulled from there, too, and if so, we’ll try to find another copy. Here’s the trailer that’s still up at dearbasketball.com (full video is down below if you want to skip to that).
Dear Basketball by Kobe Bryant
Here’s the YouTube video. As we said above, this could get pulled by the studio. If you can’t watch the video we’ve embedded below, go to YouTube and do a search. Maybe you’ll find another bootlegged copy.
Here’s one someone uploaded to Twitter, though it’s shorter than the original film.
Kobe’s Oscar-winning short film
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 27, 2020
Where to Buy It
If you want to watch a legit version (and most of us do), you can find it as part of the 2018 Oscar Nominated Shorts on Amazon Prime for $7.99.
Also, there is another Kobe show you can watch: Showtime’s 2015 documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse.” The 83-minute film is available on Hulu, Sling TV, and can be rented via Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube.
Dear Basketball: The Poem
Serving as a farewell letter, Dear Basketball is based on a poem that Kobe Bryant wrote for the game he loved. First published in The Players’ Tribune, here’s the poem from The Players Tribune.
From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:
I fell in love with you.
A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.
As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.
And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.
I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.
You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.
And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.
And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1
Love you always,
Kobe on “Dear Basketball”
Kobe had some strong praise for the film, and more specifically, for the animator.
“It was pretty surreal to see myself animated,” Bryant told The New York Times after the short was nominated. “I once dreamed of having a signature Nike shoe, but I never thought I’d be animated by Glen Keane — that pretty much tops everything!”
As far as winning an Academy Award, Kobe was stunned.
“I feel better than winning the championship, to be honest with you. I swear I do,” he said to reporters after winning the Oscar. “The hardest thing for athletes to do is when you start over, you really have to quiet the ego and you have to — you have to begin again. You have to be a learner all over again. You have to learn the basics of things. And, you know, that’s really the hardest part.”
Kobe also shared that the process of creating the film helped him deal with some of the issues that were affecting him, but that he had pushed to the side.
What It Means to Lose Kobe Bryant
On the basketball court, Kobe broke records and made himself a legend. However, off the court, he was an astute and ever-evolving businessman as well as a dedicated philanthropist. And it goes without needing to mention that he was incredibly devoted to his beloved family.
Dear Basketball is just the tip of the iceberg of what this great man was capable of. What the world lost from the second half of the life of Kobe Bryant is immeasurable.
Featured image screengrab from embedded video trailer