Kobe Bryant’s Muse, a jointly produced offering by Gotham Chopra and Bryant himself, offers a glimpse inside the Los Angeles Laker legend while still maintaining an expectedly safe distance.
The Showtime documentary reveals a vulnerable side of Bryant generally protected from the public eye, according to Sasha Bronner of Huffington Post. In it, Bryant offers commentary across his 18-year NBA career, as well as recounting the difficulties of growing up as the “only black kid” in Italy and his outcast nature upon returning to the United States as a 13-year-old, all of which inform his loner sensibilities and the unmatched drive that has propelled him to become arguably the greatest ball handler of all time. Bryant speaks emotionally about the difficulties of returning from his devastating Achilles tendon injury, an injury that has ended the careers of all who have suffered similar fates with the exception of Bryant, as well as the 2003 scandal in Colorado where Bryant engaged in an extra-marital affair that resulted in sexual assault allegations that almost ended his marriage.
The biggest knock on the Showtime documentary seems to be that only Bryant’s voice is heard. Noel Murray of the A.V. Club echoes the sentiments that state that the absence of ancillary voices and opinions from those who have played with and against Bryant, such as former Laker head coach Phil Jackson, who, in his autobiography once called Bryant “uncoachable,” teammates turned confidants such as Laker legend Derek Fisher, and former Laker center and Bryant enemy turned ally, Shaquille O’Neal. Still, the typically guarded Bryant offers himself up on as real a level as he has allowed the public to digest before.
Patrick Shanley and Brendan Scully of the Hollywood Reporter state that Bryant’s tendon injury and the extended time off due to rehabilitation and recovery spurred Bryant to want to participate in the documentary. As Bryant states in the program, he “wanted to get some things off his chest.” Chopra, son of Indian author, speaker, and “New Age guru,” Deepak Chopra, is the filmmaker behind the revealing Decoding Deepak about his contentious relationship with his famous father. Chopra stated that the reputation as a hard, calloused warrior on the court belies the sensitive and thoughtful nature that Bryant exhibits in his personal life.
“I think most people associate Kobe with this incredible self-confidence and almost arrogance and cockiness. He’s deserved that on the court, but off the court there’s a humility, there’s a curiosity, he wants to understand business people, artists and innovators.”
For those skeptical about the level of authenticity Bryant would allow to be conveyed in the film, Showtime president David Nevins assures that Bryant shares of himself in a way many might not expect.
“He promised to really go deep and really share himself in ways you’re really not expecting from this. He exceeded my expectations.”