The audience at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday who came to see composer John Williams conduct the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra were given an unexpected surprise when Kobe Bryant took the stage. Bryant joined Williams, who is famous for composing the scores for such films as the Star Wars series, Jaws, and the first two Jurassic Park movies, to read his letter "Dear Basketball," which was originally posted on the Players' Tribune in November 2015. As an added bonus, the crowd was also shown the animated film by Glen Keane on the big screen.
After starting off as a simple open letter, Dear Basketball has turned into a passion project for Bryant. In an April interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the former Los Angeles Lakers star guard revealed that he cold-called Williams and Keane, who is known for creating iconic Disney characters like the Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Aladdin, and Tarzan, in the hopes of having them work on his short.
"John was just unbelievable in teaching me how to put things in certain areas and how he went about doing it," Kobe recalls. "So we already had that relationship, and then I said, 'I wrote a short film, I would love for you to score it.' If you ever heard him speak, he's so calm and just like, 'You know, I read the piece, and it's marvelous. I would love to do it. I just have to get through this Star Wars thing, and then, I'd love to.'" Even though Williams wouldn't identify himself as a basketball fan, the two developed a common bond over Bryant's fascination with the famous composer's creative process, in addition to his daughters’ admiration towards Williams’ work in the Harry Potter films.
Dear Basketball has been screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.