Kobe Bryant is a winner in retirement, too.
The former Los Angeles Lakers star won an Oscar on Sunday in the animated short category for Dear Basketball, a poem he wrote after ending his 20-year career on the court in 2016.
He'll add it to an already jammed trophy collection that includes five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals, NBA Finals MVP awards, a league MVP award and four All-Star Game MVP awards.
Backstage, Bryant looked lovingly at the statue cradled in his hands and mouthed, "My God."
"I feel better than winning championships," he said, a smile never leaving his face. "This is crazy, man, it's crazy."
As executive producer of the six-minute film, Bryant accepted his golden Oscar statue from Star Wars star Mark Hamill. He shared the award with Disney animator Glen Keane.
"You don't have to sit in a tub of ice," Keane told Bryant backstage.
Among those offering their congratulations via Twitter were Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant's former Lakers teammate who admitted, "I'm jealous lol."
Since hanging up his basketball shoes, Bryant has delved into business (a new Nike shoe) and various forms of storytelling.
The 39-year-old believed the nomination validated that he could succeed off the court.
"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 said he heard dismissive comments such as "That's cute" when he told people he wanted to become a storyteller in retirement.
"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.
From the stage, Bryant thanked his wife, Vanessa, and three daughters, naming each of them. He spoke a few words of Italian -- a language he learned as a child growing up in Italy -- and closed by telling them, "You are my inspiration."
Backstage, Bryant credited Oprah Winfrey and writer-producer Shonda Rhimes for sharing their knowledge of the entertainment business.
"When you have mentors like that in your life, everything tends to work itself out," he said.
If aliens landed on Earth and asked some random folks about Chicago Cubs southpaw Jon Lester, the odds are they'd quickly learn that Lester has issues throwing to first base.
Lester's well-known mental block affects his ability to control the running game and field his position. New Cubs third-base coach Brian Butterfield has been working with Lester on a potential fix for his issues -- a Michael Jordan-to-Scottie Pippen-inspired bounce throw, per ESPN:
"In [Butterfield's] words, just eliminate all tension and bounce it over there," Lester told reporters. "We've been working on it early in the morning. I don't really care what it looks like. I don't care if it bounces 72 times over there. An out's an out."
Lester broke out the bounce pass during his start Sunday, yet it caught reserve first baseman Efren Navarro by surprise, skipping by and costing the Cubs. Lester, for his part, seems committed to giving it a go once the regular season starts.
Lester isn't going to win any style points for this, even if he does manage to get an extra out here and there. Still, give him credit for trying to fix one of his biggest flaws.
Sports on 03/06/2018
Print Headline: The Oscar goes to ... Kobe Bryant