LeBron James may be starring in a Space Jam reboot, but Kobe Bryant is teaming up with two behind-the-scenes Hollywood titans for his first post-NBA entertainment endeavor.
Titled Dear Basketball, Bryant is producing a short animated film for SI.com, based on the poem he wrote last fall to announce his retirement. Bryant’s collaborators? Animation legend Glen Keane and film composing icon John Williams.
Keane was a lead animator for Walt Disney Studios for nearly four decades, helping spearhead the Mouse House’s animation renaissance of the 1990s. And Williams is virtually as well known as his most famous partner Steven Spielberg, having composed the timeless themes of so many movies including Jaws, E.T., the Indiana Jones series, Jurassic Park, not to mention the entire Star Wars saga.
The project will be a co-production between Kobe Studios, Believe Entertainment Group, and Sports Illustrated. Dear Basketball will premiere this fall on SI.com, along with a series of mini-documentaries exploring the production process, including how Keane created the animation.
Below is Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” poem, followed by recent (and highly-acclaimed) shorts produced independently by Keane.
From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:
I fell in love with you.
A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.
As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.
And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.
I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.
You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
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.
And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.
And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1
Love you always,
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