NBA: Walton surprised to hear Kobe rate Oscar above championships

Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton isn’t ready to believe that Kobe Bryant’s Oscar means more to the Lakers legend than his five NBA titles.

“He said that? With a straight face?” ?Walton said Monday when quizzed by reporters about Bryant’s comments. “I didn’t see it but I would imagine there was some sarcasm in there. But hey, I don’t know. That’s his call.”

Bryant, 39, won the Academy Award for best animated short Sunday for “Dear Basketball,” a collaboration with artist Glen Keane and legendary composer John Williams.

“It feels better than winning a championship, to be honest,” Bryant told reporters backstage after collecting his statuette.

“As a kid, I grew up dreaming of winning a championship, but to have something like this coming out of left field… people asked, ‘What do you want to do when you retire?’ and I said, ‘writer.’

“And they were like, ‘That’s cute,'” Bryant said. “But to be here right now, to have a sense of validation — it’s crazy, man.”

Bryant was already a Los Angeles icon, but in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal, his honor created some consternation from those who remembered his arrest over the suspected rape of a 19-year-old hotel worker in Colorado in 2003.

Bryant admitted to a sexual encounter, but insisted it was consensual. The criminal case was dropped when the accuser refused to testify, but Bryant faced a civil suit that was settled out of court with no admission of guilt from the NBA star.

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