LOS ANGELES (AP) — Does Kobe Bryant need another trophy? He might get one — at the Oscars.
Bryant, the retired Los Angeles Lakers star, was nominated in the animated short category for "Dear Basketball," based on a poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his impending retirement from basketball. He was nominated along with veteran Disney animator Glen Keane.
"What??" Bryant responded on Twitter. "This is beyond the realm of imagination. It means so much that the @TheAcademy deemed #DearBasketball worthy of contention."
The reaction to Bryant's nomination was not all positive, however. Some on social media recalled the athlete's sex assault case from more than a decade ago. "Congrats Academy you just nominated an accused rapist — Kobe Bryant for best animated short," wrote Melissa Silverstein, of Women and Hollywood, on Twitter.
Bryant was accused in June 2003 of sexual assault by a worker at hotel in the Vail, Colorado area. Sexual assault charges were filed but dropped the following year after the woman told prosecutors she was unwilling to testify. Bryant in 2005 entered an out-of-court settlement with the woman for undisclosed terms.
The academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bryant's poem begins: "Dear Basketball, from the moment I started rolling my dad's tube socks, and shooting imaginary game-winning shots in the Great Western Forum, I knew one thing was real: I fell in love with you."
It reflects on how time is running out. "I can't love you obsessively for much longer," it says. "This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding, my mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it's time to say goodbye."
It ends by counting down the final five seconds on a game clock.
Bryant, 39, a five-time NBA champion, played 20 seasons with the Lakers before retiring last year.