Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Group and NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s new production company, Kobe Studios, along with Believe Entertainment Group, announced an exclusive multi-platform video production and development project devoted to Dear Basketball, Bryant’s poetic tribute to the game. The collaboration includes the world premiere of Dear Basketball the animated short film on SI.com as well as a series of exclusive SI Films mini documentaries taking viewers behind the scenes of the animation process. Dear Basketball is targeted to premiere in the fall on SI.com.
Bryant’s retirement poem, “Dear Basketball,” reverberated across the Internet and has been analyzed by renowned poets, professors and scholars alike. It was originally published on The Players’ Tribune, which will also help promote the project. Dear Basketball, the animated short film, will be narrated by Bryant and will be visually brought to life in a new and compelling way. Glen Keane, the iconic and prolific animator behind such classic animated features as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan and Tangled, will helm the production. Five-time Academy Award-winning composer John Williams, who has composed some of the most popular and recognizable film scores in cinematic history—including Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones series, E.T., Jurassic Park, the Harry Potter films and Star Wars—will provide the musical backdrop to this animated ode to sport.
“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,” said Bryant. “Working with Sports Illustrated on this special project is an amazing opportunity to hopefully inspire fans all over the world.”
Bryant gave rare and exclusive access to Sports Illustrated for the project, speaking openly about what Dear Basketball means to him, how it all came together and what he has learned from the creation process. The Dear Basketball collaboration will come to life across SI Group platforms, including video and text reports and interviews with Bryant and other key players in this unique production along with the animated short film to stream on SI.com. In addition, SI, Kobe Studios and Believe Entertainment Group will co-host a red carpet premiere event to celebrate Dear Basketball.
“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,” said Rich Battista, President of the Time Inc. Entertainment and Sports Group and Video. “We are excited for Kobe’s fans and the global community of sport, entertainment and art enthusiasts to experience these productions.”
“We’re honored to partner with Sports Illustrated for the launch of this amazing animated short film and to work with them on a making of series that will reach a global audience across its platforms. The chance to partner with Kobe at this time is an incredibly compelling business and content opportunity for Believe,” said Dan Goodman, co-founder, Believe Entertainment Group.