The Showtime documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” looks at the 18-year NBA veteran as he tries to cement his basketball legacy — an effort that has been slowed by a shoulder injury that ended his 2014-15 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Before this ill-fated season started, Bryant talked about the film and what he hopes fans will get out of the production, which is directed by Gotham Chopra and airs Saturday, Feb. 28, on Showtime.
Question: It’s unusual for the subject of a documentary also be one of the producers. Does this make the film an authorized biography?
Answer: Me, as producer, is only in title alone. Honestly, I’m not even quite sure what producer even means, what they do, to be honest with you. I kind of turn it over to Gotham and let him shoot. And kind of the overall vision of the story is to be able to follow the journey of the injury, the inner struggle, the inspiration that comes from that. How do you battle through that.
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So, you didn’t censor anything?
I think it’s important to be completely transparent about it. I mean, that’s one of the reasons why I was off of social media for so long. And then, once I decided to join, I said you know what, if you’re going to join, you might as well be transparent about it. And so maybe it’s just me having basketball years and being equivalent to, like, 150 years old. I really couldn’t care less what people say.
Does this film mean you’re going Hollywood?
No. The reason why I felt like this film was fun to do is because, you know, a lot of other athletes, teammates included, and kids I did a Q&A at my basketball academy with the parents at the academy. The questions that kept coming up were all about motivating their kids, reaching their kids. I felt like the film was fun to do because it could help. Maybe it could help somebody in whatever area that they’re focused on. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know. I’ll just share my story about it, and we’ll just kind of go from there.
Was it tough having cameras around all the time?
It took a little getting used to to having a camera around. So a lot of times, I’ll show up to work out or be in a meeting or something like that, and Gotham will be there with the camera and I’ll just say what the hell are you doing? Oh, yeah, that’s right. We’re doing this project together. But it was just really weird to have that kind of access.
Who was your earliest muse?
My family was always very supportive in terms of “You can accomplish” “you can be whatever it is you want to be.” And there was a defining conversation I actually had with my father when I was around 11 years old. I used to play in the league in Philadelphia called the Future League, the Sonny Hill Future League. And my father and my uncle were all legends in Philadelphia. So now I’m playing in the same league. For an entire summer I scored zero points. Zero. Not a free throw, not a technical. And the summer is over, and my father just comes up to me, and he goes, “You know, son, I’m going to love you whether you score 60 points or score zero.” That’s when I was like, “Damn. Okay. But I’m not scoring zero anymore.”
How does it feel to achieve so many goals at such a young age?
I’ve I was a little bit different than some of my peers or even predecessors like Tiger (Woods) or Michael (Jordan) who had challenges that they looked at as obstacles and checked the ball. Right? As a kid, for me, I never had that. What I focused on was I just loved playing. I mean, that’s the honest-to-God truth. I just loved playing.
How do you set goals now?
I just do what I love to do. That’s it. Simple as that. I just do what I love to do. I was really fortunate because I was born and I play basketball, and that’s what I love to do.
Is it tough knowing your years on the court may be winding down?
The idea is how do you carry that forward. I think, looking at the past, at some of the athletes that an have come before me, it’s always been about looking at it as a chapter in their life and now that book’s done and now you move on to something else or something new. And I struggle with that as well. But then I came to the realization that why does that book have to end? Why can’t you carry it on?