Kobe Bryant is an Oscar nominee

Kobe Bryant, pictured rehearsing "Dear Basketball" with composer John Williams and the Los Angeles Philharmonic before their Hollywood Bowl concert. On Tuesday the film earned an Oscar nomination in the animated short category for Bryant and artist Glen Keane.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

An 18-time NBA all-star is now an Oscar nominee: Kobe Bryant is up for an Academy Award in the animated short category for his collaboration with artist Glen Keane and composer John Williams on “Dear Basketball.”

In nominations announced early Tuesday, “Dear Basketball” won its nomination for Keane’s animation of Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” letter written in 2015, when the Lakers star announced his retirement.

Keane’s illustrations follow the arc of Bryant’s letter — from little Kobe tossing rolled-up tube socks to his departure as a player at age 37. Bryant hired Williams to score the movie, which first screened during the composer’s annual summer program of movie music at the Hollywood Bowl, where Bryant made a surprise appearance.

When Tim Greiving interviewed Bryant for The Times, the player-turned-film-producer recalled why he first phoned Williams before the 2008 NBA season.

“What makes a John Williams piece timeless? How is he using each instrument? How is he building momentum? As a basketball player, what I found myself doing a lot was essentially conducting a game, right?” Bryant told Greiving. “I wanted to talk to him about how he composed music, and try to find something similar that I can then use to help my game as a leader and winning championships.”


Other nominees in animated short category are Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon for “Garden Party,” Dave Mullins and Dana Murray for “Lou,” Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata for “Negative Space,” and Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer for “Revolting Rhymes.”

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