Dear Basketball, a five minute animated short, is Kobe Bryant’s love letter to his sport.
He remembers when he first fell in love with basketball, as a six year old child shooting rolled up socks into makeshift baskets and imagining himself starring in the NBA. He speaks of his obsession with the sport throughout his childhood, when he did everything he was capable of doing to get better and better at it. He notes how his love of the game never faded during his long NBA career, how he’s retiring now only because his body will not allow him to play at a high level any longer. And he assures the object of his love that he is leaving with no regrets, no disillusion, and no diminishing of his affection, but only with profound appreciation.
This is a moving little film, clearly a message from Bryant’s heart. Of course it’s not just about Bryant and not just about basketball, but about a child’s dreams, and how dreaming alone will never make those dreams come true without extraordinary dedication and hard work.
It’s also nice to see a story about fervent dreams that doesn’t send a message of “be careful what you wish for.” Sometimes a person actually succeeds in getting to be with the love of their life, and sometimes that’s everything they hoped it would be. This is one of those times.
I’ll admit it was hard to watch this without remembering that Bryant was accused of rape. I don’t know if he was guilty or not guilty, though he was almost certainly guilty of at least some significant degree of misconduct. But it’s kind of like if you saw a film about O.J.’s love of football. Could your experience of watching that really be completely unaffected by your awareness of the whole O.J. murder case?
I’m absolutely not somehow objecting to the film based on the Bryant rape allegations, not saying, “How dare that rapist think anyone cares what he has to say?” I’m not even saying I was unable to appreciate and enjoy the film because of the Bryant rape allegations. I’m just saying that maybe that factor distracted me enough to reduce my appreciation and enjoyment of the film by 10%-15% of what it otherwise would have been.
But be that as it may, Dear Basketball is a lovely journey into the mind of a child with a dream.