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The New Dream Team: Kobe Bryant, John Williams, and a Disney Animator

Kobe Bryant, John Williams, and a Disney animator walk into a bar together…to talk about their upcoming project.

No, seriously, that’s a real thing that is happening.

In a press release this week, the recently retired Laker’s production company, Kobe Studios, along with Time Inc’s Sports Illustrated Group and Believe Entertainment Group, announced a joint venture to turn Kobe’s retirement poem “Dear Basketball” (yes, he announced his retirement earlier this year via a poem) into an animated short that will be scored by legendary film composer John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, almost every other movie you love), and led by famed Disney animator Glen Keane (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast). Bryant himself will narrate the film, which they describe as an “animated ode to sport.” Thanks to Awful Announcing for first making us aware of this unexpected endeavor.

Besides the animated short they will also release “a series of exclusive SI Films mini documentaries taking viewers behind the scenes of the animation process.” Dear Basketball is expected to air on this fall. In the release Bryant said, “Dear Basketball is the perfect tribute to something I’ve loved for so long. 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.”

The poem, “Dear Basketball,” first ran on The Player’s Tribune last November, announcing Bryant’s retirement at the end of this past season after twenty years in the NBA. In it, Kobe expressed not just his love and appreciation for the game, but why it was time to walk away. I’m not positive, but I believe it’s the first professional sports retirement poem in history.

Dear Basketball,

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,

The day the poem ran, fans in attendance at that night’s Lakers game also received a copy.

This isn’t the first time Kobe has given a behind-the-scenes look at his basketball career. His studio’s first release was a documentary on Showtime called Kobe Bryant’s Muse, which aired in February of 2015.

The last game of the future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer’s NBA career, which saw him win five NBA titles, a league MVP, be named to 17 All Star teams, finish third all-time in points, and also win two Olympic gold medals, was Wednesday, April 13th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. He ended with the most Kobe Bryant game of them all. He led the Lakers to a win with a whopping 60 points…on an even more whopping 50 shots.

What is your reaction to this new project? Shoot into our comments section below to let us know what you think.

Image: ABC

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