Almost from the day he was born, Kobe Bryant became addicted to an round and leather ball.
“I couldn’t put the basketball down,” Bryant recalled in an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “When my parents brought me a brand new basketball, I found myself laying in bed and shooting with it. I was kind of laying there and shooting it. Then I’d fall asleep with it. Then I’d get up in the morning and play again. I just could not stop.”
After cementing a storied 20-year NBA career that spanned five NBA championships and a third-place ranking on the league’s all-time scoring list, Bryant has.
He is more than a year removed from his 60-point game in his career-finale. He has spearheaded his company, Kobe, Inc., which specializes in digital storytelling. He attended the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City this weekend, which hosted the premiere of his short film, “Dear Basketball.”
So with Bryant devoting an animated short explaining his love for that orange ball, does he miss holding it and shooting it?
“No, I don’t,” Bryant said. “It’s crazy because I started playing when I was two. After playing for 20 years in the league, what I have now is everything that I’ve learned from the game, I carry with me to this day. So the game has never truly left me. Physically, yes. But emotionally and the things that are right, all stem from the game. It’s still a part of me.”
So instead of showing his love for basketball on the hardwood, Bryant has since channeled that passion in the film room. Bryant teamed with director Glen Keane on the project, while having input on telling the story himself.
“I tried to write it very in a visual way versus simply coming out and saying this is how I feel,” Bryant said. “I tried to put it through stories. You see the dedication and commitment toward rolling my dad’s tube socks. You see it through all the VHS tapes of past games so you can see the growth and see the love.”
Bryant spoke those words as he seemed at peace. Though he exuded that persona during his final NBA season, that hardly captured Bryant’s otherwise competitive on-court demeanor.
“It’s for athletes that come next to understand there’s a finality to it,” Bryant said. “That’s okay. It’s very hard to let go of something that you’ve done for half of your life and it has become who you are. But there is a difference between understanding what you do and who you are. Hopefully other athletes can see that and understand that.”