After hoisting four All star MVP five Larry O’Brien Trophies and a league MVP award, you might not think a 13-inch golden statue could unsettle a man known for having ice in his veins. But there was Kobe Bryant, nervously smiling as he received an Oscar on stage.
After a canned joke about basketball players being told to stick to sports and the customary acknowledgements of family and others that worked on the film, Bryant came off stage and to a backstage press conference. There, you could tell how much the award meant to him.
Bryant was buzzing with energy and even said that his Oscar win was better than an NBA championship. He explained that his whole life was geared towards winning in the NBA, but this award was more validating because it was a pursuit that many doubted after his NBA career was over.
“Dear Basketball” is an animated short film based on a poem written by Bryant during his final year in the NBA when he first realized he would retire at the end of the season. The film was animated by legend Glen Keane with a score by famous composer John Williams.
The film views basketball through a philosophical lens and is wonderfully animated with a moving score, but the film was not the focus of those who took issue with the moment; it was the recipient.
Hollywood has been in the middle of a revolution with the #MeToo movement, and the purge of those accused of sexual misconduct left Kobe Bryant, who was accused of rape in 2003, in an unwelcome spotlight. Bryant had largely moved on from the incident, to the point that some have forgotten it altogether, but his Oscar win has reignited the controversy.