Kobe Bryant's latest creative works are like 'Peanuts' and 'Harry Potter,' but sports

Yahoo Sports
Kobe Bryant won an Academy Award for the animated short based on his “Dear Basketball” retirement letter. (AP)
Kobe Bryant won an Academy Award for the animated short based on his “Dear Basketball” retirement letter. (AP)

From the mind of Kobe Bryant, the man who followed his Academy Award-winning animated short “Dear Basketball” with a Mister Rogers-style television segment co-starring a purple snake puppet as his fellow basketball analyst, comes two more projects blending sports and youth — a podcast about fictional “Peanuts”-inspired characters called “The Punies” and a fantasy novel series titled “Granity.”

Both fictional stories have been in the works from Bryant’s production company for some time, but Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins provided more details in a feature on the Los Angeles Lakers legend.

Kobe Bryant’s vision is inspired by ‘The Sandlot’ and ‘Harry Potter’

Here’s how Bryant described “The Punies” to the magazine:

“You and I grew up on ‘The Sandlot.’ That was fun. Fun, fun, fun. We’re trying to do the same thing here. And within the fun hide some fundamental elements of truth.”

And here’s how he characterizes “Granity”:

“If Harry Potter and the Olympics had a baby, that would be the world we’re trying to communicate. There’s fantasy — dreamlike, magical elements — but it’s a magic kids can experience.”

Bryant’s creative process comes from the clouds

Both projects are conceived by Bryant, who developed the characters and the dreamed-up worlds in which they live, and then hired writers to actually build the stories, according to SI. “The Punies” is a podcast series scripted by Jon Haller (whose credits include episodes of cable television sitcoms “30 Rock” and “Last Man Standing”) and scheduled to launch on Aug. 25, when the rest of the world will hear what Bryant has been listening to with eyes closed at table reads with a handful of children.

Five “Granity” novels have been farmed out to writers around the country, three of which are scheduled to be released by Bryant’s production company in 2019, with the others coming in 2020. The Lakers legend is reportedly already in discussions with movie studios about optioning the novels.

The fictional works, according to Jenkins, feature songs like “Coaches Are People Too.” A sample: “They may yell and scream, they may blow their whistle. They may throw their clipboard like a ballistic missile. But coaching is hard, that’s a matter of fact. Takes time, takes patience, it’s like herding cats.”

At first glance, this seems like Bryant watched “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” or “Harry Potter,” thought to himself, ‘What if that, but sports,’ conjured up a few characters, outsourced the material, and now is preparing to assume complete ownership of the projects. This is a pretty pessimistic view, so I reached out to colleague Dan Devine for confirmation that I’m just wildly jealous of this creative process, and as usual he offered some sage advice on the matter: “Never question the genius.”

As Bryant told Sports Illustrated, “They’ve taken my ideas and made them 1,000 times better.”

Bryant has earned his creative license

Upon closer look, this is probably more in line with what other people tend to do when they’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars, retired at age 37 and need an outlet for their eccentric imagination. This from Bryant to Jenkins is likely akin to what you might hear from a rich Silicon Valley neophyte:

“I came up with the name of the world, the history, the rules, the kingdoms. It was like, ‘How do I keep going bigger to create a runway so massive that creatives can drop into it and tell different kinds of stories?'”

Again, it feels like Bryant visits Disneyland with his kids, where a cool idea pops into his ever-churning mind, so he scrawls some notes on his legal pad (he doesn’t like to type, according to Jenkins), runs it by Steven Spielberg, Glen Keane or some other creative genius, and then sends it out to some aspiring artists to fine-tune his vision. And, yes, I am entirely envious of yet another aspect of Bryant’s career.

I mean, the man won an Oscar before the window was even up on his Hall of Fame eligibility. Do you.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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