Kobe Bryant claps back over “shut up and dribble” comment during Oscar speech
Last night the Oscars had quite a few surprises, and one of them came from NBA champion Kobe Bryant.
On Sunday, the retired Los Angeles Laker won an Academy Award for Dear Basketball, in the Best Animated Short category.
The unexpected win shocked the former NBA player. The short film is based off Kobe Bryant’s poignant retirement letter published in the Players Tribune in 2015. Glen Keane, directed the film about a deep love for basketball. Keane, an animator is best known for working on hit films like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. The short film takes a look at Kobe Bryant’s journey, into his love for the sport and his long basketball career which started when he was a child, culminating with his historic run with the Los Angeles Lakers.
And during Kobe Bryant’s acceptance speech, he threw a little political shade.
“I don’t know if it’s possible, as basketball players we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble,” Bryant said. “I’m glad we do a little bit more than that. Thank you, Academy, for this amazing honor. Thank you, John Williams for such a wonderful piece of music. Thank you, Verizon for believing in the film. Thank you, Molly Carter. Without you we wouldn’t be here and to my wife Vanessa and to our daughters Natalia, Gianna and Bianka … you are my inspiration.”
Bryant’s comment was directed at Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who recently told LeBron James to “Shut up and dribble,” in reference to his vocal political opinions.
“Must they run their mouths like that?” Ingraham said on her show in February. “This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. Keep the political commentary to yourself. Or as someone once said, ‘shut up and dribble.’”
In the Oscar’s press room, Kobe Bryant doubled down on his comment.
“I think everybody wants to approach things in whatever position that is comfortable for them,” Bryant continued. “I think for us, not just athletes, but we have ability to speak up for what we believe in. Whether you’re a professional athlete or not, actor or not— you still have the ability to speak up about what you believe in. This is the democracy we live in, that’s what makes America beautiful,” he said to reporters.
The internet had quite a few reactions. The most popular was from LeBron James himself.
“Salute @kobebryant on that Oscar!!” James wrote on Twitter. “#WeAreMoreThanShutUpDribble #UJustContinueToSitBackAndWatch”
Shaquille O’Neal also added his voice to the conversation, also acknowledging his longtime teammate (and rival) on Twitter: “Congrats to KOBE first Oscar that’s big bro #dearbasketball. Proud of you, Big honor for you and your family. I’m jealous lol,” he joked.
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