Two years ago, Kobe Bryant became the first person to win both a sporting championship and an Oscar with his victory in the Best Animated Short Film for “Dear Basketball.”
The five-time NBA champion and former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash in L.A. County at age 41, won the Academy Award for his collaboration with animator Glen Keane.
In his acceptance speech alongside Keane in stage, Bryant aimed a swift jab at Fox News host Laura Ingraham, by saying basketball stars shouldn’t just “shut up and dribble.”
Ingraham had come under heavy fire the previous month for criticizing LeBron James and fellow NBA star Kevin Durant for making anti-Trump comments in an interview with ESPN’s Cari Champion for “UNINTERRUPTED,” saying they shouldn’t comment on politics and should “shut up and dribble.”
Durant went on to say that he thought Ingraham’s on-air comments were “racist,” while James responded in a simple Instagram post, stressing “I am more than an athlete.”
“I’ve always been told that as basketball players the expectation is that you play. This is all you know. This is all you do. Don’t think about handling finances. Don’t think about going into business. Don’t think that you want to be a writer 00 that’s cute,” Bryant told the Undefeated ahead of the Oscar ceremony. “I got that a lot. What do you want to do when you retire? ‘Well, I want to be a storyteller.’ That’s cute.
“This is … a form of validation for people to look and say, ‘OK, he really can do something other than dribble and shoot,” he said.
“Dear Basketball” features Keane’s line drawings that animate the poem Bryant wrote to announce his retirement from the NBA in 2016. The short first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Keane is the award-winning animator behind “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid,” while Bryant was an NBA All-Star 18 times during his two decades with the Lakers.