Kobe Bryant Oscar win
Kobe Bryant after winning an Oscar for best animated short film, “Dear Basketball.” Photo: ABC

After winning an Oscar for best animated short film for his love letter to the sport “Dear Basketball,” retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant said Sunday evening he is thrilled with his second career as a storyteller and wants to do more.

Standing next to the film’s director Glen Keane, Bryant said backstage at the Dolby Theatre, “I feel better than winning a championship, to be honest, I swear I do.”

When the former Laker told friends and colleagues that he wanted to be a writer and a filmmaker, they humored him, he said.

“That’s cute, that’s cute … I got that a lot,” Bryant said.

“The hardest thing for athletes to do is …  you really have to quiet the ego” to begin all over again, he said.

The golden statuette he held now gave him “a sense of validation,” the ex-NBA star said.

Asked how the business of storytelling differs from sports, Bryant said, “I think the hardest part about it … is when you’re playing basketball … (you need to ) get out of the way of yourself … in writing, it feels like you have to get into a deeper connection with yourself.”

Making the short film took him well out of his comfort zone.

His 11-year-old daughter helped push him forward, Bryant said, by telling him, “You always tell us to go after our dreams, so man up.”

Working with composer John Williams — who has won five Oscars and been nominated dozens of times — didn’t hurt.

“John speaks about music as if each key has its own soul,” Bryant said. “It’s just an amazing experience … he’s a real life Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Keane called Williams “an old school craftsman,” who wrote out the score for 80 instruments by hand. And the composer was as excited as “a little kid” when he heard that music for the first time, the director said.

“Super charged,” Bryant, 39, added.

The basketball hero turned filmmaker also said he has some great mentors.

He remembered calling Oprah Winfrey for advice and spending an hour on the phone with her “walking me through every step of the way … how she built Harpo.”

Shonda Rhimes was another source of inspiration and help.

“You just continue to learn from the best of the best of the best,” Bryant said.

And he wants to do “more, more,” Bryant said, saying his eponymous studio was working on a series of five novels the team hopes to pitch as feature-length films.

–City News Service

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