In a way, Kobe Bryant’s final season felt a little like a movie. You know, embattled hero struggles through six months of dreary wilderness, prevailing at the end with an uplifting triumph. Really, all that was missing from Kobe’s 60-point final game was a dramatic score.
Enter John Williams.
On Thursday, Sports Illustrated, Kobe Studios and Believe Entertainment Group announced an animated short film based on the Black Mamba’s “Dear Basketball” poem, in which Bryant announced his retirement. The project will feature music from the legendary composer and five-time Oscar-winner John Williams, who provided scores for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and more. It will be narrated by Kobe himself (of course) and produced by Glen Keane, the animator behind Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and other successful Disney films.
“Dear Basketball is the perfect tribute to something I’ve loved for so long,” Bryant said in a statement. “Glen and John are two legends in their industries, so to partner with them on the creative process is a dream come true. Working with Sports Illustrated on this special project is an amazing opportunity to hopefully inspire fans all over the world.”
Williams’ involvement is the most intriguing part of this. The composer has been nominated for 50(!!!) Oscars, most for any living person. Just imagine what the man who brought us the Imperial March can do for Kobe Bryant, a Vader-like villain in his own right.
In addition to the animated film itself, the SI-Kobe-Believe partnership will include a series of SI Films mini documentaries about the making of the film.
Ramona Shelburne’s insightful ESPN Magazine profile of Kobe last month mentioned the retiring guard’s vague passion for storytelling. It sounds like this animated short could be just the start.
Not that he isn’t deep into what comes next. For the past few years, he’s been saying he wanted to be a storyteller after he finished with basketball but keeping the details sparse and cryptic. He’d allude to conversations he was having with creative types such as J.K. Rowling or J.J. Abrams but never say how deep they went.
“There’s an entire mythological universe I’ve created,” he finally reveals. “There are certain rules that make up this world. Within this world, I’ve built in a lot of room for really talented writers to come in.
“The bulk of it’s coming from me. But the writers being phenomenal at what they do are able to really bring my imagination to life.”
Bryant, who produced a documentary about himself that originally aired on Showtime last February, is reportedly working on another documentary that focuses on his retirement. No word if that film will also have a dramatic Hollywood score.