Things aren’t getting much better for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes dropped a 6,000-word piece on the dysfunction of the Lakers organization under owner Jeanie Buss, general manager Rob Pelinka and former team president Magic Johnson.
The voices in Holmes’ story often point the finger toward Johnson for his leadership approach from the very beginning. However, one of the most alarming tales focuses on an apparent lie told by Pelinka that involves Kobe Bryant and the late actor, Heath Ledger.
Here’s an excerpt from the story:
“There was one time when Kobe, who I worked with for 18 years, was going back to play in Madison Square Garden, and he had just seen ‘The Dark Knight,'” Pelinka said. “Obviously, you guys saw that movie, and he’s like, ‘Hey, hook me up with dinner with Heath Ledger, because he got so locked into that role. I want to know how he mentally went there.’ So, he had dinner with Heath, and he talked about how he locks in for a role.
“And Kobe used some of that in his game against the Knicks.”
Here’s video of Pelinka telling the story:
But there are some inconsistencies with the story. The Dark Knight wasn’t released until July 18, 2008. Ledger tragically passed away eight months earlier, on Jan. 22, 2008. Per Holmes, a source with “direct knowledge” claims the meeting between Bryant and Ledger never happened.
Bryant did have an excellent game at Madison Square Garden just a few weeks prior to Ledger’s death. He scored 39 points on 28 shots, adding 11 rebounds, eight assists and two steals on Dec. 23, 3007.
But the idea that Bryant wanted to meet with Ledger to pick his brain over his Dark Knight performance still seems impossible. According to director Christopher Nolan, they were still going through the editing process at the time of Ledger’s death.
“He was on another film,” director Christopher Nolan told MTV.com in 2008. “It had been months and months since we’d wrapped, and we’d cut a lot of the film together, and we’d watched the film a couple of times. We were about halfway through the edit process.”
This is just another in a long line of embarrassing incidents for the Lakers ahead of one of the most important summers in NBA history. The Lakers have cap space to entertain free agents such as Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, amongst others. LA is also expected to still be aggressive in landing New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis via trade.
Bryant has been active on Twitter, but so far has not spoken up about his side of the story.
NBA free agency opens on June 30.