×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kobe Bryant Scores With Composer John Williams for ‘Dear Basketball’

Composer John Williams had never seen a basketball game — high school, college or pro.

Yet when L.A. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant called about scoring a five-minute animated short based on his farewell poem to the sport, the five-time Oscar winner interrupted his work on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” to comply.

The short is called “Dear Basketball,” and Williams and Bryant aren’t the only legends involved. It was animated by Glen Keane.

“Right from the beginning Kobe really wanted this to feel as hand-crafted as possible,” Keane says. “It was also very important that, for our composer, we have somebody who’s not just using a synthesizer, but real instruments in an orchestra. Something very personal.”

Bryant wrote the poem — a love letter that chronicles his sports obsession from the time he was 6 — in November 2015, five months before his retirement at age 37. Keane began work in spring 2016; animating it took about nine months. Williams recorded his music in March 2017.

“It was pretty wonderful to think that the ‘Star Wars’ orchestra was being used for this short but very emotional film on Kobe’s amazing life,” Keane says. “John’s work lifts you emotionally. He really supported what I was trying to do with my animation, and what I thought Kobe delivered in his narration.”

Dear Basketball” is one of only three shorts Williams has scored in his career, and the only animated one. He performed it live last summer at the Hollywood Bowl, with Bryant narrating.
“What’s important about this film is that it tells us that Kobe’s life is meaningful, contributive and finally, inspirational,” Williams says. “Not just to young people who aspire to athletic careers but to people in general, of all ages.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • BETWEEN TWO FERNS, 2019, PH_0027.RAF

    Film Review: 'Between Two Ferns: The Movie'

    If you’re a fan of “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” the fake public-access talk show that Zach Galifianakis has been hosting online, for three to six minutes a pop, over the last 10 years, then you’ll probably like “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” the snark-lite 82-minute road movie that Galifianakis and his director and [...]

  • The Irishman

    Martin Scorsese, Frances McDormand, Donald Sutherland Join Lineup of France's Lumiere Festival

    Martin Scorsese’s eagerly awaited Netflix movie “The Irishman” wasn’t completed on time to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival, but Thierry Fremaux, Cannes’s topper, managed to pin down the high-profile movie and Scorsese himself for the upcoming Lumiere festival in Lyon next month. Dedicated to heritage movies, the Lumiere festival was created 10 years [...]

  • 'Aladdin' Star Mena Massoud Calls for

    'Aladdin' Star Mena Massoud Calls for a Broader Diversity of Storytelling in Movies and TV

    The star of “Aladdin,” Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud, called for a greater diversity of storytelling in movies and television when he spoke at the glamorous opening ceremony Thursday of the 3rd edition of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival. Massoud, whose credits include Amazon’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and Hulu’s “Reprisal,” lauded “the power of art” [...]

  • 4127_D015_00199_RC(l-r) Laura Carmichael stars as Lady

    Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Beats 'Ad Astra,' 'Rambo: Last Blood' on Thursday Night

    “Downton Abbey,” the movie continuation of the hit TV series centering on the Crawley family, has won Thursday previews with $2.1 million from 2,800 North American locations. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” has launched with $1.5 million in previews, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: Last Blood” scooped up $1.3 million at nearly 2,900 [...]

  • Renee Zellweger'Judy' film premiere, Arrivals, Samuel

    'Judy's' L.A. Premiere: Renée Zellweger Takes Another Ruby Step Toward the Oscars

    Renée Zellweger continues to follow the yellow brick road to the Oscars. The Los Angeles premiere of Judy on Thursday night in Beverly Hills kept the Academy Award winner on track for a possible second win come February. “We’re just so happy we’re able to share it with you tonight,” Zellweger said to the crowd [...]

  • Benedict Andrews (L) and US actress

    Kristen Stewart on the 'Insane Gall' of Directors as 'Seberg' Arrives in San Sebastian

    SAN SEBASTIAN – On Friday, Kristen Stewart and Benedict Andrews’ political thriller “Seberg” plays at the 67th San Sebastian Film Festival, where it opens Perlak, a section dedicated to the Spanish premieres of major international films. The star and her director addressed the media prior to the screening in the festival’s first high-profile press conference, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content