Details remain murky, but NBA fans can expect at some point to see Kobe Bryant’s final season with the Los Angeles Lakers documented similarly to the way the The Last Dance has covered Michael Jordan’s last season with the Chicago Bulls, replete with plenty of all-access footage, according to a report from ESPN.
Embarking on a season-long farewell tour during the 2015-16 NBA season, Bryant hired a personal camera crew to chronicle the journey, and as the season progressed, he utilized as many as six camera crews, according to the report. Those crews received “unprecedented” access, according to former Lakers vice president of public relations John Black.
The camera crews followed Bryant through locker rooms at home and on the road, the training room, the team’s charter plane and its practice facility.
“They had unprecedented and, by far, greater access than anyone else ever,” Black said, per ESPN. “We certainly allowed them to do everything we could within what the league would allow, and sometimes, with a wink and look-the-other-way, allowed them even more.”
The 2015-16 season culminated with Bryant treating fans to a 60-point night in a Lakers victory over the Utah Jazz in his final game.
According to the ESPN report, plenty of Bryant footage has already been in editing stages for “a potential documentary to be released years from now.” In fact, Bryant had reportedly seen some of the edited footage, and was providing feedback on some of the material before his tragic death in January.
The report said that plans to release the all-access footage have unlikely changed in the wake of his death.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. spent his rookie season with the Lakers playing alongside Bryant and said the various camera crews took some time to become accustomed to.
“It was like, ‘All right, we got to really watch what we’re saying, watch what we’re talking about, because you have no idea who’s watching or editing this,’” Nance told ESPN. “That’s something we all kind of talked about as a team is like, ‘Hey, you never know where this is going. So, let’s just keep it mellow around the cameras.’ But the longer the year went on, you just forget about them and just kind of stopped caring.”
That could make for plenty of compelling content for the world to view in the future, when the footage is ultimately released as a documentary. Before his death, Bryant was already delving into multiple projects involving storytelling. In 2018 his production company won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball, a project based on the letter Bryant wrote to announce his intention to retire after the 2015-16 NBA season.