Add an Oscar to Kobe Bryant’s lengthy list of wins. The five-time NBA championship winner has earned a new piece of hardware: an Oscar for Best Animated Short.
“As basketball players we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. I’m glad we’re doing much more than that,” Bryant said in his acceptance speech, referencing controversial comments by Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham. He also thanked the Academy, composer John Williams, and his wife and daughters.
Director Glen Keane also thanked Bryant, saying the short has “a message for all of us — whatever form your dream may take, it’s through passion and perseverance, that the impossible is possible.”
Asked backstage about athletes making political statements, Bryant added, “I think everybody must approach things… from their position of whatever’s comfortable for them. I think for us, not just as athletes but as people in general, we have the ability to speak up for what it is we believe in. Whether you’re a professional athlete or not, whether you’re an actor or not, you still have the ability to speak up for what it is you believe in, as well as people have the right to criticize. This is the democracy that we live in. That’s what makes America beautiful.”
Bryant’s short, “Dear Basketball,” is based on the poem he wrote in 2015 when he announced his retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers. The poem is set to hand-drawn animation by Disney-alum Keane and a score by Williams. Bryant and Williams have been friendly since 2008 when Bryant reached out to ask the composer about his process.
The other nominees in the category were “Negative Space,” by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter; “Revolting Rhymes” by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer; “Garden Party” by Gabriel Grapperon and Victor Caire; and “Lou” by Dave Mullins and Dana Murray.
Watch “Dear Basketball” online here.
—With reporting by Marc Sneitker and Piya Sinha-Roy