By Barry Janoff
May 5, 2016: On April 14, Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game, then spoke to a packed Staples Center crowd, friends, family and other players, ending his message of thanks by referring to his "Black Mamba" nickname, with the words, "Mamba, out."
Now, a new deal to create a multi-layer platform based on his official retirement letter/poem, "Dear Basketball," has Kobe saying, Mamba, in."
Prior to his final game, Bryant already had started to transition to life after his 20-year NBA career, all with the Los Angeles Lakers, through business and marketing efforts under the corporate umbrella, Kobe, Inc.
Bryant, via his Kobe Studios, launched this past February, has now unveiled its first project: Working with Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated Group, digital entertainment company Believe Entertainment Group and the likes of renowned animator Glen Keane and five-time Academy Award-winning composer John Williams to bring "Dear Basketball" to the screen.
Bryant published the ode on The Players' Tribune in November.
Dear Basketball is scheduled to premiere this fall as an animated short film on SI.com, which will be accompanied by a series of mini documentaries "taking viewers behind the scenes of the animation process."
Support will see the project touted across SI Group platforms. In true Hollywood fashion, SI, Kobe Studios and Believe Entertainment Group will co-host a red carpet premiere event.
“We are proud to collaborate with Kobe to tell the comprehensive story of his first endeavor after retiring from the NBA in a way that only SI can,” Rich Battista, president for the Time Inc. Entertainment and Sports Group and Video, said in a statement. “We are excited for Kobe’s fans and the global community of sport, entertainment and art enthusiasts to experience these productions.”
Keane, whose work includes such classic animated features as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan and Tangled, will head the production.
Williams, who has composed film scores for the likes of Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones series, E.T., Jurassic Park, the Harry Potter films and Star Wars, is heading up the music.
According to Bryant, “Dear Basketball is the perfect tribute to something I’ve loved for so long. Glen and John are two legends in their industries, so to partner with them on the creative process is a dream come true. Working with Sports Illustrated on this special project is an amazing opportunity to hopefully inspire fans all over the world."
Bryant has been involved with or the focus of other cinematic projects, including Kobe: Doin' Work (2009), a documentary from Spike Lee; and last year's Kobe Bryant's Muse, which aired on Showtime.
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