The list of awards former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant racked up during his nearly-unparalleled NBA career is long and, and can’t be read continuously without taking a breath.
Eighteen All-Star games, two scoring titles, five championships, 12 All-Defensive teams, four All-Star MVPs, two Finals MVP Awards and regular season one, too. The list would make for quite the LinkedIn profile if Bryant needed one, but he doesn’t, because he’s also a certified businessman who owns his own company off of the court.
Bryant recently had his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys retired by the Lakers, and appears to be a lock for the Hall of Fame. However, he says none of those accolades could measure up to one thing he has yet to win: an Academy Award, which his short film “Dear Basketball” is nominated for.
That might seem strange for a basketball-obsessive personality like Bryant, but he explained why he’d be so satisfied with an Oscar to Baxter Holmes of ESPN:
“It would mean more to me than all the other awards,” Bryant says. “Because it’s not something I’ve ever expected to do. It’s not something I was supposed to be able to do. As a kid, I grow up, I have dreams of winning championships and MVPs and all this other stuff. It’s something that I have in my mind. It’s a goal. Life deals you these cards, injuries happen, things happen, you pivot, and then write something that comes from the heart.
“Then it’s like, ‘OK, I have a passion with this storytelling thing. Let’s do this business.’ Then you blink, and then Glen animates it. Then you blink again, and you’re onstage at the Hollywood Bowl with John Williams. You blink again, and it’s like, ‘OK, he’s getting Oscar buzz.’ Now the train is going. You’re just like, ‘What the f— is going on?’ It’s not something that … especially for us athletes, you’re supposed to just really do one thing. You’re not supposed to be able to do anything else.”
Athletes are often put into a box or harangued by stereotypes when they attempt to do something unique or different. So it is unique to see Bryant branch off in such a different direction and still have success, but ultimately that’s also kind of his legacy.
He just chose to direct it at basketball for most of his life until now. Bryant sometimes got beat on the court, but it was never due to a lack of putting in the work, of spending late nights and early morning obsessively honing his next weapon to use for a specific defensive situation.
That trait made him one of the craftiest and smartest NBA players of all-time, but now that he no longer can direct that attention to detail to the court, it honestly shouldn’t be surprising that he found success when aiming it in a different direction.
It also shouldn’t be surprising that the ever-competitive Bryant is unfocused on his previous awards, because that’s what he did his whole career. He was always searching for the next mountain to climb or the next enemy to slay.
And if this award stokes his hunger for more cinematic recognition, Hollywood should probably watch out, because they’ll be dealing with a slightly different animal, but the same beast Bryant was on the court as he comes for all of their gold trophies next.
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