Dear Basketball is spawned from a poem Kobe Bryant wrote and published as his announcement that he was leaving the LA Lakers and professional basketball. He felt his tenure as a player was over, and it was time to move on to storytelling. Fittingly, he announced his resignation by telling a story about basketball. The poem attained critical success, and the emotional themes work perfectly for the animation it is set to.
Bryant racked up a host of kudos during his 20 years as a shooting guard – and played most of it for the LA Lakers. Bryant remains the player to stay with one team for the longest amount of time, and was at one time the youngest player in the NBA and the youngest starter for NBA – records which have since been beaten.
The six-minute-long film outlines Bryant’s passion for basketball that has been lovingly fostered since age six and traverses his life as a basketball player – as per the words of his poem. The score, by Star Wars composer John Williams looks to evoke the bittersweet imagery that spans the film. The film is perhaps made more poignant knowing how Bryant’s six-year-old self would rise to stardom through the game he loved, and eventually have to leave it behind.
Bryant’s exit wasn’t just poignant from his growth from boy to man through playing professional basketball. It was also heavily bet on. The game – which saw Bryant scoring 60 points – received a heavy amount of interest in how it would turn out in the betting world. Bryant’s astounding 60-points seemed almost prophetic, despite the bookies’ odds going against the legend. With the abundance of data, logistical analyses, and manoeuvre scrutiny, Bryant rose to the challenge and defied the odds, as he had done his entire career. Thanks in part to Bryant, the bookies have kept the shop open for the past two decades, with basketball betting ranging from the tactical to the astounding and remaining popular throughout. The latest basketball tips may give some indication as to the victor, but as Bryant has shown, the game really is anyone’s. Or perhaps that was just Bryant.
Bryant isn’t the first sports star to turn his hand to the silver screen. Australian fast bowler Brett Lee starred in a Bollywood film released in India in 2016 titled Unindian. Lee is well known for advertisements in the subcontinent and the film was received as tongue-in-cheek as it was made. Former NRL prop Ian Roberts (of the Rabbitohs, the Sea Eagles, and the Cowboys) also moved away from the sport that rocketed him to fame to become an actor. Despite some minor roles, Roberts made it semi-big in the 2012 film Saltwater – playing a gay man. Roberts himself came out as the first openly gay player in the NRL.
The film – which opened with several viewings through the last week of April – will likely make its way online for all to see and for all to experience Bryant’s difficult decision to leave basketball behind. The film will likely be a well-deserving swansong for the future Hall of Famer.