For some athletes, making the game-changing move from the pro sports spotlight to the next phase of their life can be a difficult task, physically, mentally and financially.
For Kobe Bryant, the transition has been as smooth as his moves were on a basketball court.
Since retiring from a 20-year NBA career after the 2016 season, Bryant — known for his intensity and competitive drive — has been on a mission to become as least as proficient in his new career as he was in winning five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
His Granity Studios is working with some of the top talent in Hollywood; his animated film, “Dear Basketball,” won an Emmy and an Oscar this year; and he currently has a 15-episode project on ESPN+, “Detail,” written, produced and hosted by Bryant, that will run throughout the NBA playoffs and Finals.
Instead of playing alongside the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and other NBA stars, he gets to brainstorm with such Hollywood stars as J.J. Abrams, George R.R. Martin, Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and Steven Spielberg.
“Ron Howard and I had dinner (recently). We spent about an hour and a half talking about film and process, all this other stuff,” Bryant said during a media call to discuss his “Detail” project.
“When I was going through the process of retirement ... I had this other thing calling me that I enjoy doing. I’m (now) completely focused on that. I can watch a game, feel nothing at all. There’s no angst, there’s no, man, I want to get back out there. There’s literally zero of that.
“As a player I always wanted to learn from the best players in the game. Absolutely, man. I’ve been a sponge my whole career. It’s certainly not going to stop now.”
Bryant in now also solidifying his position as a creative talent on Madison Avenue.
Last year, he wrote, directed and narrated a national TV spot for BodyArmor sports drink, “Obsession is Natural,” a company in which he also is an investor.
Bryant is back in the lead with BodyArmor’s new multi-media campaign, “Thanks, Gatorade, We’ll Take It From Here.”
Bryant conceived, co-directed and wrote the TV spots, which star BodyArmor athlete spokespersons James Harden, Mike Trout, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Kristaps Porzingas.
Each scenario positions Gatorade as the outdated drink of previous generations, with BodyArmor seen as the modern-day and better option.
“I’m notorious for taking what’s old and finding a way to make it new,” Bryant said about the campaign.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from finding things from the past and evolving them to be better. That’s exactly what we’ve done with BodyArmor Sport Drink. We found a way to make the sports drink category better.”
BodyArmor, led by co-founders Lance Collins and Mike Repole, has about 5% of the sports drink category versus Gatorade’s 65+% and Powerade’s 25+%, according to industry analysts.
According to Bryant, he sees himself now as he was back during his early NBA days.
“The important thing for me is to establish myself within this industry as a serious creator. I mean, I can write. I can edit. I can produce. I can do those things at a serious level. It’s not something that’s kind of a one-time passion sort of thing. It’s just something I do every single day.”