By Matt Citak

When Kobe Bryant decided to retire from the sport of basketball following the 2015-16 season, the Lakers legend said he wanted to make “these next 20 years… better than the previous 20.” Following his 20-year career that saw him make 18 All-Star Games, win five NBA Championships, two Olympic Gold Medals, two Finals MVP awards, and an NBA MVP award, this would not be such an easy task.

However the 39-year-old Bryant is already well on his way to making that statement become a reality. First, Bryant had both his No. 8 and No. 24 retired by the Lakers in an extraordinary ceremony at the Staples Center last month. Now, “Dear Basketball,” the film adaptation of the NBA superstar’s 2015 retirement letter published in The Players’ Tribune, was announced Tuesday as one of this year’s Oscar nominations for “Best Animated Short Film.”

Bryant wrote and executive produced the animated short, which served as a love poem to the game of basketball as the all-time great left the sport behind. The short film was directed by Glen Keane, the animator behind various classic Disney animated films such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Keane illustrated the sketches in the film, which showed images of Bryant from his childhood through the end of his NBA career. The film was scored by five-time Oscar winning composer John Williams.

The future Hall of Fame guard seemed genuinely surprised to receive the Academy’s honor, and shared his appreciation on Twitter.

“Dear Basketball” was part of the 2017 Tribeca Film festival, and is one of five finalists for the prestigious award. It will be competing against “Garden Party,” “Negative Space,” “Lou,” and “Revolting Rhymes” for the 2018 Oscar.

The Academy Awards will be announced March 4th.

Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to