Don’t be surprised if you can’t find Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning animated short, “Dear Basketball,” streaming online anymore in the wake of the basketball star’s death. The film, which was briefly available Monday, has been taken down.
A representative for the agency that worked on the film declined to give further details.
“Dear Basketball” is based on a poem Byrant wrote in November 2015 to announce his retirement. The poem was published by the Players’ Tribune, a website that features first-person accounts written by pro athletes.
The film, which runs a little longer than five minutes and tells the story of one boy living out his basketball dreams, is narrated by Bryant and was directed and animated by Glen Keane, son of “The Family Circus” creator Bil Keane. Oscar-winning composer John Williams provided the musical score.
“It is elegiac,” Williams told The Times in 2017, “but it isn’t weepy. It strikes its own manner of saluting the man and the game and the accomplishments with a lot of modesty. I think it’s very touching, and in the end, that may be its highest achievement — that it’s able to praise this man the way it does, without a lot of false vanity or hubris that could easily have spilled into it.”
The decision Tuesday to take down the video means it’ll be hard to find online — again.
After winning the animated-short Oscar in 2018, “Dear Basketball” was hosted on the go90 platform, but Verizon shuttered go90 in the middle of that year. A teaser trailer to the short still appears on dearbasketball.com. Various illegal copies were uploaded to video-sharing platforms YouTube and Dailymotion, both before and after Bryant’s death, but efforts were underway Tuesday to get those removed too.
Immediately after Bryant’s death Sunday, one YouTube user’s own tribute video to the father of four, which included the poem as audio over game footage and was uploaded under the title of the short, was presented by at least one media outlet as “Dear Basketball” itself.
There are, however, a number of ways to watch a different Bryant motion picture project: Showtime’s 2015 documentary “Kobe Bryant‘s Muse” is available on Hulu, Sling TV and on demand from the premium channel. It can also be rented via Amazon, YouTube and Google Play.
The 83-minute film, directed by Gotham Chopra, ranges from footage of his childhood exploits to coverage of the injuries that ended his pro basketball career. Bryant said at the time that he did the documentary because he didn’t have the patience to write a book.
“We’re going back and revisiting key moments of my life, figuring out how did that make me grow as a person,” Bryant told The Times in 2015. “I can’t lie — at the start of this process, I’m thinking this is going to be great. But when I actually started confronting the journey, there were moments that were scary. ... At the end, it was therapeutic.
“It actually helped me deal with things that were affecting me that I had pushed to the side.”