Bryant case resembles movie plot

Updated: August 14, 2003, 10:05 PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Sometimes life really does imitate art. Or the other way around.

A highly respected NBA star's life is turned upside down after a woman accuses him of rape: That's both the story of Kobe Bryant and the plot of an independent film that completed shooting last February, months before Bryant's real-life drama began.

"I was just amazed," Jennifer Harper, the film's writer and director, told the Los Angeles Times. "We were calling each other like, `Can you believe the timing of this.' "

The movie was the brainchild of Portland Trail Blazers center Dale Davis, who hopes to have it sold to a distributor before the upcoming NBA season.

Even more remarkable, Harper said, is that Bryant was the model for the lead character, played by actor Allen Payne.

"In rehearsals, Allen Payne asked, `What athlete is this based on?' I said, `Just think of Kobe Bryant,' " Harper said. "He's loved by everybody. He has all the endorsements. That's who this character is."

Bryant, who turns 25 later this month, was charged July 18 with felony sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in Colorado.

In the film, Payne plays Cedric Tinsley, a 27-year-old NBA superstar who is the subject of a paternity suit by a woman who threatens to accuse him of rape if he doesn't agree to an out-of-court settlement.

The film's title, "Playas Ball" refers to the party held during NBA All-Star week that attracts professional athletes and others.

Davis, who financed it for less than $1 million through his Atlanta-based company World Ain't Right Entertainment, said he made it to show how high-profile athletes can be exploited.

"It happens to athletes in general, entertainers in general," he told the Times. "Sometimes these are the things you have to go through if you have money, and the extent some people will go through to try and get it."

He added that he doesn't want to exploit Bryant's situation to publicize the film, but predicted it would make "a huge statement" considering recent events.

Harper has said the film has "a happy ending," and it seems clear Dale is hoping Bryant's life will too.

"I don't think he did it," Davis said. "Knowing him and what he stands for, it just doesn't make sense."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index