Kobe Bryant's 'Dear Basketball' wins Oscar for animated short

At Sunday night's 90th annual Academy Awards, Kobe Bryant won another trophy, this one for the Oscar in the animated short category.

Bryant, the retired Los Angeles Lakers star, brought home the golden statue for his contributions to the animated short "Dear Basketball," based on a poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his impending retirement from basketball. As executive producer, Bryant accepted his Oscar from "Star Wars'' star Mark Hamill. He shared the award with Disney animator Glen Keane.

"And to Kobe, for writing 'Dear Basketball,' it's a message for all of us," Keane said during his acceptance speech. "Whatever form your dream may take, it's through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible."

Bryant, who seemed in disbelief and had to take a deep breath as he repeatedly looked at his Oscar, then delivered a message.

"I don't know if it's possible," Bryant retorted. "I mean, as basketball players, we are really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I am glad we do a little bit more than that."

He thanked his wife, Vanessa, and his three daughters, naming each of them. He spoke a few words of Italian -- a language he learned as a child growing up in Italy -- and closed by telling them, "You are my inspiration.''

Among those offering their congratulations via Twitter were Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant's former Lakers teammate, who admitted, "I'm jealous lol.''

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, recently criticized by a Fox News host who told him to "keep the political commentary to yourself. Or as someone once said, 'Shut up and dribble,'" also applauded Bryant for his achievement.

On Monday, James said Bryant's film was "phenomenal" when asked if had seen it. He also was asked if winning an Oscar one day was one of his goals.

"Naw, it's never been one of my goals. But now that I'm in a movie and film and TV business and doing so many things, if at some point we can be nominated and win the Oscar, that would be something that I never thought that would happen for sure. We've got some things in the works, so we'll see what happens," he said.

Bryant told reporters in the interview room after receiving the award, "I feel better than winning a championship, to be honest with you. I swear I do.''

When he told people he wanted to write and tell stories after retiring from basketball, Bryant said the reaction was, "That's cute. You'll be depressed when your career's over. To be here now and have this sense of validation, this is crazy, man."

Bryant clearly has taken to his second career, saying he is also working on a series of novels, adding: "I wake up in the morning, I can't wait to write, I can't wait to get to the studio."

Bryant's poem begins: "Dear Basketball, from the moment I started rolling my dad's tube socks and shooting imaginary game-winning shots in the Great Western Forum, I knew one thing was real: I fell in love with you."

It reflects on how time is running out. "I can't love you obsessively for much longer," it says. "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."

It ends by counting down the final five seconds on a game clock.

Bryant said he got his inspiration to turn the project into a film from his 11-year-old daughter, Gianna, who told him, "Dad, you always tell us to go after our dreams, so man up."

Bryant, 39, a five-time NBA champion, played 20 seasons with the Lakers before retiring following the 2015-16 season.

Lakers coach Luke Walton said Monday he didn't watch the Oscars when Bryant won his award but he isn't surprised that his former teammate won.

"I am very happy for him," Walton said. "I am not surprised by it. Anybody that has been around him knows how dedicated he is and how hard he works when he puts his mind to something. Happy for him but not surprised."

When told that Bryant said winning an Oscar was better than winning an NBA championship, Walton was caught off guard.

"He said that? With a straight face?" Walton asked. "I didn't see it but I would imagine there was some sarcasm in there. But hey, I don't know, that's his call."

ESPN's Dave McMenamin, Ohm Youngmisuk and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Video
Kobe glad he can do more than 'shut up and dribble'
Kobe glad he can do more than 'shut up and dribble'
After winning the award for Animated Short at the Oscars, Kobe Bryant jokes that "as basketball players we're really supposed to shut up and dribble" before thanking members of his family, calling them his inspiration.

Related Topics:
sportsespnoscardear basketballbest animated shortacademy awardsnbakobe bryantlos angeles lakers
(Copyright ©2018 ESPN Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.)