Kobe Bryant Had All-Access Film Crew Document His Final NBA Season with Lakers

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 24, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers address the media during the post game news conference after scoring 60 point in his final NBA game at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant's last season with the Los Angeles Lakers got all-access treatment by a documentary film crew, similar to how documentary series The Last Dance chronicled Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98.

According to ESPN's Baxter Holmes, Bryant used a personal camera crew to film his season-long retirement tour in 2015-16.

John Black, who worked in the Lakers' public relations department, said the crew had "unprecedented and, by far, greater access than anyone else ever."

Holmes noted the footage has been in editing "for a potential documentary to be released years from now" and it's "unlikely" that has changed following Bryant's death.

Bryant had already begun to pursue different opportunities in the waning days of his NBA career. The 18-time All-Star was the subject of a 2015 documentary about his life titled Kobe Bryant's Muse, which he also produced.

After retiring from basketball following the 2015-16 season, Bryant established the production company Granity Studios. The company won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018 for producing Dear Basketball, which was based on Bryant's retirement letter originally published in the Players' Tribune.

According to Holmes, the film crew attended every Lakers game, practice and shootaround and received permission from the NBA to shoot limited amounts of game footage during Bryant's final season.

One former Lakers staff member told Holmes "it wasn't rare" to have cameras in the training room when Bryant was being examined because "they were there every day."

The Lakers could only manage a 17-65 record in 2015-16, but Bryant went out on a high note with 60 points in a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz in his final game.