LOS ANGELES — As fans worldwide are mourning the loss of an icon in Kobe Bryant, one of the many ways people can begin to cope with this tragedy is by watching or re-watching the 2015 Showtime documentary, Muse. The film dives into the psyche of the late basketball legend, through Bryant's own words.
Muse filmmaker and director, Gotham Chopra got to know Bryant about 10 years ago. They met through friends, are about the same age, and are both proud fathers. The die-hard Celtics fan and Lakers star bonded over their shared love of the game.
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“The basketball nerd in me is like sitting down with Kobe Bryant looking at game tape, are you kidding me? That’s where he and I started our friendship,” Chopra said.
Chopra said that in the beginning, Bryant always had plans for life after basketball. He was obsessed with documentaries and wanted to work together, but they just needed to craft the story.
“When he ruptured his Achilles in 2013, he texted me that night and said, 'Hey man, I think we got our plot.' As a filmmaker you are always looking for structure, so that was our structure,” said Chopra.
Similar to so many others, Chopra experienced the intensity of Bryant’s drive and work ethic first-hand. He said they battled and it was exhausting, but it also pushed the filmmaker to grow.
“He didn’t need to understand the movie or the scene, he needed to understand the mind of the artist," Chopra said. "Kobe was an artist, and basketball happened to be his canvas. That was something very revealing to me, that’s the way he operated. And again, its something that I have tried to emulate in my life.”
Chopra went on to work on more sports documentaries like Showtime Sports, Shut Up and Dribble and documentary series on other titans in sports, like six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady as well as three time NBA champ, the Golden State Warriors' Steph Curry.
“Kobe was an incredible catalyst in my life both personally and professionally," Chopra said.
Willful, relentless, competitive, all words that people would use to describe Bryant on the court. But in what was shaping up to be his next chapter, Chopra saw him transition.
"I think as he transitioned into this next chapter of his life as a storyteller, he did, he made a lot of calls, and he would just pick the brains of the best creators out there," Chopra said.
A life lived so fully, lost so tragically, along with eight others, each with their own story.