Kobe Bryant has won five NBA Championships, is an 18-time All-Star, 15 times chosen for the All-NBA team…. and now he can add Academy Award Nominee. Dear Basketball was nominated for an Oscar in the best animated short category.
Dear Basketball is based on the poem Bryant wrote in 2015 after announcing his retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers. It features hand-drawn art on graphite and paper by Glen Keane, who animated Ariel in The Little Mermaid. The music was done by iconic composer John Williams.
Bryant told the Los Angeles Times that he had previously reached out to Williams in 2008 to help his basketball game:
"I asked myself a question. 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? 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."
An interesting note is that Williams told Bryant that he'd never seen a basketball game, of any level, in his entire life. But Bryant knew Williams was the only one to compose the music for Dear Basketball:
"I don't want it to be poppy, I don't want it to be hip-hoppy. I want timeless, classical music."
Bryant tweeted out his response to the nomination and thanking both Keane and Williams. You can see the Dear Basketball here.
What?? This is beyond the realm of imagination. 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. #OscarNoms pic.twitter.com/M2joyk9D1V
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 23, 2018