FROM THE footlights of Los Angeles, legendary veterans in two fields joined forces to achieve an Academy Award milestone.
Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers great, is the first former NBA player to receive an Oscar nomination, which he got for producing “Dear Basketball,” recognized in the animated short category. Bryant teamed with director and supervising producer Glen Keane to create the lyrical and visually liquid six-minute animated film, which is based on Bryant’s retirement poem in which the point guard traces his lifetime love of the sport. Bryant, who also narrates the film, retired after the 2015-16 season, capping a two-decade career.
“This is beyond the realm of imagination,” Bryant tweeted Tuesday morning, as he thanked Keane and composer John Williams for “taking my poem to this level.”
(Bryant’s nomination could be seen as controversial, especially in the #MeToo era, as Bryant was accused of rape in 2003 and settled a civil suit out of court after the criminal case was dropped.)
Keane is a recognized “Disney Legend” for a career that has included such animated hits as “Tangled,” “Tarzan,” “Pocahontas” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The team behind “Dear Basketball,” which officially premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, included son Max Keane, who worked on production design and storyboarding, and producer Gennie Rim.
“I’m extraordinarily grateful that I get to do what I love — animate — for a living,” Keane tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “Every film I’ve worked on over the last 40 years has touched me in its own unique way, but this project and its message holds a special place in my heart.”
The other nominees are in the animated short category are “Garden Party,” “Lou,” Negative Space” and “Revolting Rhymes.”
The Academy Awards ceremony will be broadcast March 4 on ABC.