Kobe Bryant can now add ‘Oscar award-winner’ to his resume after the former basketball star won the Animated Short category at the Academy Awards and claimed the feeling was better than his NBA titles.
The retired Los Angeles Lakers legend earned the golden statue on Sunday for his animated short ‘Dear Basketball’, based on the poem he wrote in 2015 to announce his retirement from basketball.
Bryant, who finished a glittering 20-year career in 2016, walked away from the game with a full cabinet of trophies and accomplishments, including five championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, one league MVP, two Olympic gold medals, 18 All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA First Team selections and having his Nos 8 and 24 retired by the Lakers.
Yet as dedicated as he was to the game, Bryant declared his Oscar win was a feeling like none other.
“I feel better than winning championships,” he said. “This is crazy, man, it’s crazy.”
As executive producer, Bryant accepted his Oscar from ‘Star Wars’ star Mark Hamill, alongside Disney animator Glen Keane.
Bryant thanked his wife, Vanessa, as well as his three daughters before delivering a message that athletes aren’t solely defined by what they can do on the court or field.
“As basketball players, we’re told to shut up and dribble,” Bryant said on stage. “I’m glad we did a little bit more than that.”
LeBron James, who was recently told by Fox News host Laura Ingraham to ‘shut up and dribble’ instead of providing political commentary, congratulated Bryant on Twitter, as did Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal.
Bryant’s Oscar win, however, seems to fly in the face of Time’s Up and #MeToo movements.
The Oscars celebrated Hollywood’s recent uncovering of sexual harassment and abuse on Sunday, but still rewarded Bryant, who in 2003 was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in a Colorado hotel room.
The criminal case was dropped after the woman was unwilling to testify in court, but the civil suit against Bryant was later settled out of court and included his apology to her, although he didn’t admit guilt.
Hayward, who suffered a gruesome ankle injury just minutes into his Celtics debut in the season opener, posted a brief video on his social media channels that showed him doing some shooting drills.
The former All-Star also teased there will be “more to come” on the Players Tribune, which is where he posted his announcement that he would join the Celtics this past summer.
We’ve already gotten glimpses of Hayward shooting, but those were stationary shots. In the latest video, Hayward looks as mobile as he’s been since the injury and is even seen taking small jumps on his shot.
“I’ve said all year, not coming back,” Stevens said last week before facing the New York Knicks. “It’s the way I’ve operated. It’s the way we’ve looked at it.”
On Thursday, Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix furthered tempered hopes.
“I saw Hayward before the All-Star break. He’s walking fine, but his ankle was still swollen and still purpleish, which makes it impossible to believe he will be ready to play before mid-April,” Mannix wrote in his column.
Boston only have 19 games left in the season, so it’s not as if Hayward has ample time to be ready to play if he is to return.
But there still appears to be a chance, albeit small, that Boston could have one their stars back before the start of the playoffs.
This is more like the Lonzo Ball many expected to see this season.
Since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him 15 games, the Los Angeles Lakers rookie has been both efficient and an all-around difference-maker in his three appearances – all of which have been wins.
And in the Lakers’ 131-113 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday, Ball was singled out by Lakers coach Luke Walton as being “the best player on the court” on a night Isaiah Thomas dropped 29 points and Julius Randle added 25.
Ball actually finished with the second-fewest points of any Laker, managing eight, but did so on only five shots while filling up the rest of his stat line with seven assists, six rebounds and six steals.
He became the first Lakers rookie to post a 4×6 game since Magic Johnson in 1979.
“He was great,” said Walton. “To me he was probably the best player on the court tonight, and I think he only shot five times, which is why we’ve been so high on him from day one.
“He’s one of the very unique players, it doesn’t matter if he’s taking shots, scoring 20 a game, or not, he can impact the game from all over. He was doing that for us tonight. All-around probably, in my opinion, the best player on the floor tonight.”
Before returning from injury, Ball was similarly stuffing the stat sheet with 7.1 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game, but shooting just 35.6 per cent overall and 30.3 per cent on 3-pointers.
In his past three games, however, Ball has shot 77.8 per cent from the field (10-of-17) and made 8-of-12 from distance (66.7 per cent).
It’s come in a limited sample size, but his recent uptick in shooting, especially from beyond the arc, has been encouraging, as has his decision-making and willingness to let the game come to him rather than forcing shots.
Even though Ball is likely never going to be a big-time scorer, his ability to impact the game in other ways means he has a high floor, as well as a potentially high ceiling if he can be the efficient shot-maker he has been of late.