Extra’s Mark Wright spoke with director Spike Lee, who is still reeling over the death of Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
Lee, an avid New York Knicks fan, admitted, “I’m still shook, I’m still shook ... It’s like some Greek tragedy, some kind of crazy thing, and with his daughter ... especially here, L.A. is the epicenter. I just got here this morning and I see on the bus, everywhere, you can’t miss it.”
“L.A., the world, but especially L.A., he grew up here, came in when he was 17 years old, and again, all of us human beings, and I include myself, we take for granted this great gift we have of being alive,” Lee emphasized about Bryant, who played his entire career for the Los Angeles Lakers. “But tomorrow’s not guaranteed and I know I was not the only one, I know I was not the only husband in the world that hugged his wife and kids. I did, and that’s the first thing you think about.”
Lee and Kobe worked together on the 2009 documentary Kobe Doin’ Work, which focused on a game between the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs through the eyes of Bryant. For the project, Lee was given full access to Bryant’s life for one day during the 2007-2008 season.
As for how he remembers Bryant, Lee said, “Game respects game. Whatever field it is, when you see someone that is on that level, you respect it.”
Lee also revealed how Bryant would greet him whenever they saw each other at basketball games. The 62-year-old, who is known for sitting courtside, shared, “Funny story — every time Kobe would see me, it wouldn’t be like, ‘What’s up, what’s up brother, what’s happening?’ It was, ‘Knicks suck!’ No matter what, that was the greeting. No matter where it is, where or when, he sees me ... ‘Spike, Knicks suck!’ and then we would hug.”
Last year, Lee famously jumped into Samuel L. Jackson’s arms after winning his first Oscar for BlacKkKlansman. He is set to present at the ceremony this Sunday. Weighing in on the lack-of-diversity controversy surrounding the award show, he commented, “Well, this didn’t start this year, this is something that has been going on from way back in the day. I told people that six African-American people won last year. I said, 'Don’t expect that to happen back-to-back.'"
He noted, “Every day is a struggle. You just gotta keep at it, and I’m honored to be representing, to present an Oscar.”
Lee is taking on another first, becoming the president of the jury at Cannes Film Festival. He pointed out, “The first Black person ever, I think in the 73-year history of the festival.”
When Extra's Mark Wright smiled, saying, “The first one ever. That is reppin', right? Ever," Lee laughed, responding, “You spelling it e-v-e-h. That's a Brooklynese 'ever.'”
Lee is also working with Cadillac on unveiling the 2021 Escalade, starring in and directing the commercial. He teased, “This is legendary; Cadillac is a legend and this [is] new ... They made some innovations, and there’s just a whole history behind the brand.”