Kobe adds an Oscar to his haul

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Kobe Bryant with Best Animated Short Film Award for "Dear Basketball" at Oscars Backstage of the 90th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, US, March 4, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

Kobe Bryant is a winner in retirement, too.

The former Los Angeles Lakers superstar on Sunday won an Academy Award in the animated short category for Dear Basketball, a poem he wrote after ending his 20-year career on the court in 2016.

Bryant will add his Oscar to an already jammed trophy collection that includes five NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, NBA Finals most valuable player awards, a league MVP award and four All-Star game MVP awards.

"I feel better about this than winning championships," he said, a smile never leaving his face. "This is crazy, man, it's crazy."

As executive producer of the six-minute film, Bryant accepted his golden statuette from Star Wars star Mark Hamill. He shared the award with Disney animator Glen Keane.

"You don't have to sit in a tub of ice," Keane told Bryant backstage.

Among those offering their congratulations via Twitter were Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant's former Lakers teammate who admitted: "I'm jealous lol."

Since hanging up his basketball shoes, Bryant has delved into business (a new Nike shoe) and various forms of storytelling.

The 39-year-old said the nomination validated that he could succeed off the court.

"I mean, as basketball players we're really supposed to shut up and dribble, but I'm glad we do a little bit more than that," Bryant said during his acceptance speech.

He said he heard dismissive comments like "That's cute" when he told people he wanted to become a storyteller in retirement.

"The hardest thing when you start over, you have to quiet the ego. You have to learn the basics of things," he said.

From the stage, Bryant spoke a few words of Italian - a language he learned as a child growing up in Italy and closed by saying: "You are my inspiration."

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