Oscars 2018: Ex-NBA star Kobe Bryant says win gives a ‘sense of validation’

Nurul Azliah
Senior Lifestyle Reporter
90th Academy Awards – Oscars Governors Ball – Hollywood, California, U.S., 04/03/2018 – Best Animated Short Film winner Kobe Bryant. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Reporting from Hollywood

Former basketball star Kobe Bryant had to deal with naysayers who were sceptical about his decision to pick up writing, but his Oscar triumph has given him a “sense of validation” and felt “better than winning a championship”.

The five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for “Dear Basketball” on Sunday night (4 March, 5 March Monday morning Singapore time), along with director Glen Keane and composer John Williams.

During a press interview, Bryant shared more about the challenges he had gone through, from having to learn all over again to getting out of his comfort zone.

“As basketball players, we’re supposed to shut up and dribble but I’m glad we’re doing more than that,” said Bryant, 39.

He contrasted the challenges of basketball with writing, noting how in the former, he faced the challenge of having to get away from his opponents. But with writing, he needed to learn to “have a deeper connection” with his thoughts and feelings.

This was something that required a lot of nudging from the director, who had to keep reminding him to provide more details in his writing, Bryant shared.

‘Ok that’s too short, you’ve got to give me more,’ Keane would say.

Bryant was also grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Keane and Williams, saying, “It was amazing to sit with John and sit with Glen throughout this entire process and hear the same attention to detail that each have.”

And when the project got a little too tough, he could depend on his daughter, Natalia, as a source of motivation.

“Dad, you always tell us to grab that dream. So, man up!” Bryant quoted his 11-year-old as saying. The short film “Dear Basketball” is based on a letter he had written to announce his retirement from the sport back in 2016.

Ever since leaving basketball, the athlete-turned-businessman has started a venture capital fund under the name Bryant Stibel & Company, as well as media company called Kobe Studios.

And his advice for other athletes hoping to find a new outlet for themselves?

“Find something you love to do.”

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