How Did So Many People Get the Kobe Story So Wrong?


Illustration for article titled How Did So Many People Get the Kobe Story So Wrong?

Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

If you were a Kobe fan as much as I was, then you know that both he and Michael Jordan often repeated the now-famous Phil Jackson quote that characterized their superstar careers:

“Let the game come to you.”

As a perennial basketball benchwarmer, I never knew what that phrase meant until a barrage of alternative facts confused the country on Sunday.

In an age where information is faster and more readily available than ever, news outlets around the globe found various ways to fuck up almost every detail of Bryant’s demise, from misidentifying the late legend to prematurely releasing erroneous information.

Everyone knows that if TMZ (whose initials stand for “Tactfulness of a Motherfucking Zombie”) was around at Jesus’ crucifixion, they would have pushed a camera in Mary’s face and asked if she had any words for Pontius Pilate. The news outlet was admonished by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva for reporting the fateful helicopter crash before authorities had a chance to notify the families of the deceased.

“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one … perished and you learn about it from TMZ,” said Villanueva, according to CNN. “That is just wholly inappropriate.”

Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami took a swipe at the Trifling Media Zealots in a tweet.

Intrepid retweet journalist Shaun King shared that his “law enforcement source” had four people dead at the scene. While that may not seem terrible, imagine knowing your family was on that helicopter, reading that tweet and having a sliver of hope that there were survivors, only to have your life crushed a few hours later. Meanwhile, another reporter had already killed Bryant’s entire family before the actual story broke.

Illustration for article titled How Did So Many People Get the Kobe Story So Wrong?

Screenshot: Clay Ferrarro (Twitter)

But those weren’t the only mistakes.

The BBC aired a touching video tribute to Bryant. The heartfelt montage highlighted some of Bryant’s notable accomplishments. There was only one problem:

The video was of Lebron James.

While NBC4 used its helicopter to capture a grieving Lebron James, who had just passed Bryant for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list hours earlier, Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez took the opportunity to retweet a story about Kobe Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case. Sonmez was subsequently shocked when she received thousands of messages of “abuse and death threats.”

“Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality,” explained Sonmez. “Even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling.”

Sonmez was eventually placed on “administrative leave” while the Post investigated the tweets to see if they violated the Post’s Newsroom social media policy.” Apparently, her tweets were ok, according to Mediaite. It was the screenshots of her work email inbox that concerned her employers.

Sonmez’s understandable mistake was still much better than MSNBC’s Allison Morris, who conflated the word “Lakers” and the “Knicks” while reporting the story, uttering “Knackers,” which sounds a lot like…Well, you know.

“Earlier today, while reporting on the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing, I unfortunately stuttered on air, combining the names of the Knicks and the Lakers to say “Naker,” Morris said later in a Twitter apology, adding: “Please know I did not & would NEVER use a racist term.”

One of the common misconceptions about internet media is that it still pays to be first but, as noted hood journalist Christopher Wallace said on his investigative report, “Hypnotize”:

Squeeze first, ask questions last…
That’s how most of these so-called gangstas pass.

Or, as the great man who actually played for L.A. Niggas once recounted:

“Let the game come to you.”

The Root


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