Before the final curtain falls on Kobe Bryant's basketball career, fans will get a rare treat in the form of a Showtime documentary called Kobe Bryant's Muse profiling one of the greatest Lakers to don purple and gold.
In a press release, Showtime announced that it plans to release the documentary at some point this fall, coinciding with Bryant's hopefully healthy return to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The feature is directed by Gotham Chopra, whose directing credits include Decoding Deepak (2012) and the ESPN 30 for 30 film The Little Master (2014).
Chopra states the project was an unlikely one considering his sports loyalties. "As a lifelong Boston Celtics fan, never did I imagine I would collaborate with Laker great Kobe Bryant," he said.
Chopra was ecstatic about the chance to profile the Lakers legend.
"Kobe's quest for greatness transcends rivalries and I'm excited by his and Showtime’s willingness to go down this rabbit hole together. I’m confident audiences will be intrigued by what comes out the other side," he said.
ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne notes that Bryant isn't exactly one to jump at the chance to welcome film crews and producers into his personal space:
In the past, Bryant has resisted projects that demand an all-access look into his life, choosing to keep the methods behind his success mysterious. But with his career threatened by an Achilles injury last spring, and the knowledge that his time in the NBA is coming to an end within a few years, he changed his mind.
Bryant, however, did allow renowned filmmaker Spike Lee to chronicle his life over the course of a game day back in 2009 in the documentary Kobe Doin' Work.
From the looks of it, the Showtime documentary will be a far more exhaustive look at Bryant's life and his preparations as one of the sport's best players.
Executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza had this to say: "Kobe Bryant's Muse will offer viewers a deep character portrait of a professional athlete who has transcended his sport to become a culture-moving personality."
"We are thrilled that Kobe has given us this unprecedented access, which will allow our viewers to witness such a challenging period of time in the life of one of the NBA’s greatest players," he continued.
According to the release, the documentary will be executive produced by Bryant and Chopra in tandem with Mamba Media and cover "Bryant's storied basketball career, detailing his mentorships, allies and rivalries that have helped shape his 18-year tenure in the NBA."
As the Los Angeles Times' Patrick Kevin Day reminds us, Bryant is under contract with the Lakers for $48.5 million over the next two seasons. He is coming off one of the more frustrating campaigns of his career, playing in just six games thanks to injury and, as reported by the LA Times, departing early for vacation.
He also posted this pointed tweet before leaving:
As Shelburne notes, welcoming such a production isn't exactly shocking considering Bryant's recent revelation that the end of his career is near and various projects outside basketball are necessary for a man who works so tirelessly at his craft.
Shelburne points to a March interview between Bryant and ESPN's Darren Rovell covering the Lakers star's budding business ventures.
Bryant had this to say about the prospect of life after basketball:
I have always had ideas and always had a vision of where I wanted to go going back to 2000, but they are just ideas. Now, once the Achilles injury took place, I'm sitting at home for months not moving, a couple things set in. One is that there is only so many Modern Family episodes a person can watch. And then two, what do I do now?
If one were so bold, the answer might be that Bryant is now apter to stretch the empire and welcome projects outside his comfort zone.
Don't think for a second this means anything different for Bryant the player, because fans should expect the 35-year-old to work extremely hard to make next season the polar opposite of this one.
As for the documentary, we'll put on our soothsayer hat and predict a hit. Despite playing in a handful of games, ESPN.com indicates that Bryant's jersey still ranked in the top five of sales for the year.
Fans gravitate toward the Mamba. It's that fact that makes a rare look into his life so compelling. When you couple that with the popularity of similar documentaries found in the likes of the 30 for 30 series, you have all the components for a memorable feature for fans of all basketball loyalties.
A healthy Bryant has long been a safe bet on the basketball court, but a similar sentiment is welcome in capturing all things Bryant behind the scenes.
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