Kobe Bryant’s Oscar nomination, announced Tuesday, came for a film that has a deep personal meaning to him.
‘Dear Basketball,’ the five-minute film he worked on with artist Glen Keane, who animated characters for Disney movies like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and Oscar-winning composer John Williams, was among the five nominees for best animated short film.
“It was emotional when I first wrote it,” Bryant told The Times about a month before the nominations were announced Tuesday. “When I sat down and thought about what I wanted to say, and then once I wrote it and stepped away from it and read it. I’d spoken to the game before. The game has done so much for me and my family. It’s taught me so much and I’ve never actually gotten a chance to thank it.”
Bryant wrote the poem in 2015 when he announced his retirement from basketball. He spent all 20 years of his career with the Lakers and was an 18-time All-Star.
After retiring from basketball, his ambition didn’t disappear. It merely shifted.
“The film itself is … about a dream and trying to keep that dream as an adult,” Bryant said. “And it’s a dream within you. And ultimately you have to let go of the thing that you love the most for years and years and years and you have to move on. How do you come to terms with that?”
The film was available to watch on Verizon’s go90, and the Lakers aired it Dec. 18, at the start of their ceremony to retire Bryant’s two jerseys.
Byrant said he hoped the film stirred in people memories of their own childhoods.
“If it moves people one way or the other … Glenn and I both are happy with that,” Bryant said. “The idea when you create something is you infuse it with truths, you infuse it with emotion that hopefully the people that view it can pull from and internalize.”
Upon hearing of its nomination, Bryant wrote a message of thanks on Twitter.
“What?? This is beyond the realm of imagination,” he said. “It means so much that the @TheAcademy deemed #DearBasketball worthy of contention. Thanks to the genius of @GlenKeanePrd & John Williams for taking my poem to this level. It’s an honor to be on this team.”
Ball still out
As the Lakers wrapped up a shootaround Tuesday morning, Lonzo Ball could be seen jogging on a treadmill off the court.
Ball has been jogging since Saturday. He began shooting this week and did some stationary dribbling, but as of Tuesday evening had not yet done any agility work. Agility work will come before Ball is able to get on the court for practices. Lakers coach Luke Walton would like to see Ball practice before he plays.
Ball has missed five games with a sprained left knee, which he injured five games after returning from a shoulder sprain that kept him out six games.
Change of scenery
The Boston Celtics lost their marquee free-agent signing Gordon Hayward in the opening minutes of the NBA season when he suffered a gruesome ankle injury.
And while Hayward still hasn’t been cleared to travel with the team, he did make an appearance at Staples Center on Tuesday evening. The Celtics want to give him a change of scenery.
The Celtics will play the Clippers on Wednesday, and Boston coach Brad Stevens said Hayward will remain in Southern California after the rest of the team leaves.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli