Kobe Bryant Adds Poetry and Filmmaking to Legendary Resumé

When you think of the name Kobe Bryant, poetry will not likely be the first thing to jump into your mind, but at the 16th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, his parting words to the sport he loves were displayed to a packed crowd at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Tribeca Performing Arts Theater.

A discussion followed the screening and was moderated by former NFL player Michael Strahan, with both Bryant and animator Glen Keane in attendance.

Premiering on Sunday, April 23, “Dear Basketball” was written by Bryant and animated by former Disney artist Glen Keane, who created iconic characters such as The Beast, Ariel and Aladdin. The short was scored by legendary composer John Williams whose work can be heard in films such as Star Wars, Jaws and Harry Potter.

“I had this idea, this weird idea that composing a piece – putting together a piece – is much the same as leading a team because everybody had responsibilities. Just as you have different instruments you have to put the instruments in the right place, you have to perform them at the right time which is no different than basketball. So I reached out to John about how he composes these things and try to find some common ground between what he does and I do, so we established that relationship,” said Bryant during the discussion.

Drawn by hand, the poem took audiences through Bryant’s youth playing basketball with tube socks in his room as a child up to the end of his career with the Lakers. The passion Bryant has for basketball overwhelms the short 6 minute run-time.

“It was very important that it was animation because the fabric of the piece was very patient. It was telling a story of how do you know the career over time, having a dream and tapping it, how can you get there? It was important it was hand felt because that’s how it was built, it was built by hands,” Bryant said.

The animation flows with the poem chronicling a young love of the sport that overlays with the successes of Bryant’s career. Color is sparse and is used only to highlight the colors of his Lakers jersey.

Bryant claims not to miss the sport, knowing that he had given it all he could.

“You have to be true in the face of decisions. Okay, well, do I want to play next year or do I not? The answer was no. That’s it,” Bryant said.

He may not miss basketball, but with his parting poem he eloquently and heartwarmingly says goodbye to one aspect of his life and opens the door to a new one.

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