Kobe Bryant's studio makes Oscar-winning short 'Dear Basketball' available for free
After Kobe Bryant's death Sunday, finding his animated short "Dear Basketball" to watch online was a difficult task — until now.
Granity Studios, the NBA star's multimedia production company, made the Academy Award-winning film available for free Monday afternoon on the dearbasketball.com website and on Vimeo.
"Dear Basketball" is based on a poem he wrote in November 2015 to announce his retirement. The poem was published by the Players' Tribune, a website that features first-person accounts written by pro athletes.
The film, which runs a little longer than 5 minutes and tells the story of one boy living out his basketball dreams, is narrated by Bryant and was directed and animated by Greg Keane, son of "The Family Circus" creator Bil Keane. Oscar-winning composer John Williams provided the musical score.
"It is elegiac," Williams told The Times in 2017, "but it isn't weepy. It strikes its own manner of saluting the man and the game and the accomplishments with a lot of modesty. I think it's very touching, and in the end, that may be its highest achievement — that it's able to praise this man the way it does, without a lot of false vanity or hubris that could easily have spilled into it."
Prior to Granity's Monday update, finding the short was tough.
After winning the animated-short Oscar in January 2018, "Dear Basketball" was hosted on the go90 platform, but Verizon shuttered go90 in the middle of that year. A teaser trailer to the short had appeared on the Granity Studios website and on dearbasketball.com. Various illegal copies were uploaded to video-sharing platforms YouTube and Dailymotion.
Immediately after Bryant's death, one YouTube user's own tribute video to the father of four, which included the poem as audio over game footage and was uploaded under the title of the short, was presented by at least one media outlet as "Dear Basketball" itself.
There are more ways to watch a different Bryant motion-picture project: Showtime's 2015 documentary "Kobe Bryant: Muse" is available on Hulu, Sling TV and on demand from the premium channel. It can also be rented via Amazon, YouTube and Google Play.
The 83-minute film, directed by Gotham Chopra, ranges from footage of his childhood exploits to coverage of the injuries that ended his pro basketball career. Bryant said at the time that he did the documentary because he didn't have the patience to write a book.
"We're going back and revisiting key moments of my life, figuring out how did that make me grow as a person," Bryant told The Times in 2015. "I can't lie — at the start of this process, I'm thinking this is going to be great. But when I actually started confronting the journey, there were moments that were scary ... . At the end, it was therapeutic.
"It actually helped me deal with things that were affecting me that I had pushed to the side."