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ESPN, Kobe Bryant Partner On Short-Form Video Series

Variety logo Variety 12/23/2016 Brian Steinberg
© Provided by Variety

ESPN and basketball legend Kobe Byrant will team up to present six short-form videos during NBA coverage produced by the network, the Disney-owned sports-cable outlet said Friday.

The effort, dubbed “Canvas,” will include six short video presentations on various topics related to playing basketball, each seen through Bryant’s viewpoint. The first will debut on Christmas Day, during ABC’s airing of “NBA Countdown” at 2 p.m. eastern on December 25. A Spanish-language version of the piece will air during ESPN Deportes’ Christmas NBA coverage at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

“Kobe is one of the most important athletes of the past 20 years, known for his brilliant basketball mind equally as much as his spellbinding athletic capabilities,” said Kevin Wildes, ESPN’s vice president of original content, in a prepared statement. “These videos, which are more like short films, mirror the unique approach Kobe took to the game of basketball. We’re eager for the fans to see his thought process come to life in video form.”

The first piece in the series will center on how to approach guarding some of the best NBA players. Once “Canvas: Guarding the Greats” airs the “NBA Countdown” team – Michelle Beadle, Earvin “Magic Johnson,” Jalen Rose and Chauncey Billups – will provide analysis on the topic during the show. Bryant will also voice a Spanish-language version of the piece, which will air on ESPN Deportes during the network’s Christmas NBA coverage. Additional “Canvas” segments will air throughout the remainder of the 2016-17 NBA season, and could be tied to regular-season match-ups on ESPN and ABC, the NBA Playoffs and the NBA Finals.

Bryant, who spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and won five NBA championships with the team.

Through his Docen Media unit, Bryant has produced other sports-related programming, such a “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” a project that launched on Showtime in February of last year. Bryant served as creator and executive producer on the film.

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