Former Laker Kobe Bryant won an Oscar for an animated short film “Dear Basketball” at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday.
“I feel better than winning championships,” he said. “This is crazy, man, it’s crazy.” The former NBA player served as an executive producer of the six-minute short, which was developed from a poem he wrote in 2016.
“I mean, as basketball players we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble but I’m glad we do a little bit more than that,” Bryant said on stage.
Bryant shares the award with Disney animator Glen Keane. “You don’t have to sit in a tub of ice,” Keane told Bryant following their triumph.
“The hardest thing when you start over, you have to quiet the ego and begin again. You have to learn the basics of things,” he said of his foray into film. “When you have mentors like that in your life, everything tends to work itself out,” he said, thanking TV moguls Oprah Winfrey and Shonda Rhimes.
According to a report from The Hill, Bryant used the opportunity controversial statements aimed at athletes.
“I mean as basketball players we're really supposed to shut up and dribble but I'm glad we do a little bit more than that,” taking a swipe at Fox News' Laura Ingraham who suggested that basketball players "shut up and dribble" and refrain from making political remarks.
"It's a message for all of us, whatever form your dream may take, it's through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible," Bryant said of his win.
Bryant thanked his wife, Vanessa, and their three daughters in his speech. He even spoke some Italian, a language he learned while growing up in Italy.
The ex-basketball player's contemporaries took to Twitter to congratulate him. Among them were Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Shaquille O’Neal.
Bryant is a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. The icon has won NBA Finals most valuable player awards, a league MVP award and four All-Star game MVP awards as well.