Films To Watch To Get A Sense Of Who Kobe Bryant Was On And Off The Basketball Court

As the world continues to mourn the loss of NBA great, Kobe Bryant, everyone is looking to archival interviews and social media posts to hold on to cherished memories of the legend.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant 2017 | Harry How/Getty Images

While interviews are great, they are normally shorter in length and stick to professional scripts in their lines of questioning. If you are looking for a different aspect of the famed player’s life and career, here are three films that highlight Bryant in a different light.

‘Dear Basketball’ (2017)

Dear Basketball is an animated short film written and narrated by Bryant. The film is based on a letter Bryant wrote to The Players’ Tribune on Nov. 29, 2015, which announced his retirement from professional basketball after 20 successful seasons. 

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In the letter, Bryant describes his love for basketball, which began when he was a young child. He famously revealed once that he began playing when he was just two-years-old. Bryant details with love how he and basketball became synonymous and how the game has been one of his longest loves of his life. 

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Many were surprised at Bryant’s transition into filmmaking and storytelling post-retirement. While most retired athletes go into sportscasting, Bryant took a different route and spoke openly about his love for writing. 

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“I never, ever thought that storytelling would be something that I would love as much as the game,” he told Yahoo Sports in 2017. “I heard a lot of people telling me when I started writing and they would ask me, “What are you going to do when you retire?” And I’d say, “Well, I want to be a writer; I want to be a storyteller,” and I got a lot of, “That’s cute. That’s cute. You’ll be depressed when your career is over, and you’ll come back to playing,” you know. And I got that a lot.

Dear Basketball proved that he would excel in his new career. The film won a 2017 Oscar for Best Animated Short film.

Source: YouTube

‘Kobe Bryant’s Muse’ (2015)

Shot in front of a single camera with a black backdrop, the Showtime documentary gave fans and viewers an intimate look into who Bryant was both in his element in basketball and at home. Bryant opened up about his what his life after retirement would look like, fatherhood and the biggest misconceptions about him.

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Bryant speaks honestly in the documentary about some of the biggest personal challenges of his career. For the first time, he details how his cheating scandal of 2003 had a dual effect on him both personally and professionally. 

On a personal level, it rocked his marriage and he believes the stress of the scandal contributed to his wife’s miscarriage while she carried the couple’s second child – something that visibly still burdened Bryant as he spoke about it. Professionally, he poured his frustrations into basketball and flourished on the court, eventually winning five championship titles with the LA Lakers. 

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Bryant also opened up about his career-defining injury and how it impacted his game.  

The documentary was praised for its honesty and Bryant’s vulnerability. 

‘Kobe Bryant Is The Black Mamba’ (2011)

After his death, CNN featured a piece on Bryant’s famed “Black Mamba” alter ego. He gave himself the moniker to cope with the backlash he faced following his cheating scandal. In a 2014 interview with The New Yorker, he said the name was inspired after watching Kill Bill

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“The name [Kobe Bryant] just evokes such a negative emotion,” he said at the time. “I said, ‘If I create this alter ego, so now when I play this is what’s coming out of your mouth, it separates the personal stuff, right?’ You’re not watching David Banner — you’re watching the Hulk.”

He spoke about the nickname over the years, including in a 2015 interview with the NBA, saying, “When I step on that court, I become that. I am that killer snake. I’m stone cold, man.”

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“The Black Mamba” eventually turned into a full brand that now includes a basketball academy for boys and girls. In 2011, Bryant partnered with Nike to create a short based on his alter ego. In the 6-minute piece, Bryant is in pitch meeting where Robert Rodriguez tries to sell him on the idea of an action film exploring his alter ego as a character. Bryant is initially hesitant at first but warms up to the idea.

Danny Trejo, Bruce Willis and Kanye guest-star as villains who poke fun at the character. It’s one of the first instances where many who are used to a normally serious Bryant, is exposed to a more humorous side of the star. 

Source: Instagram

Thanks to Kobe Bryant for his inspirational work and life!