Lakers GM made up story about Kobe Bryant meeting Heath Ledger
ESPN published a bombshell report Tuesday detailing the widespread organizational dysfunction plaguing the Los Angeles Lakers the past several seasons, and one anecdote in the piece concerning how general manager Rob Pelinka once made up a story about Kobe Bryant nears the epitome of absurdity.
The damning report, titled, “Lakers 2.0: The failed reboot of the NBA’s crown jewel,” was penned by Baxter Holmes. In it, the depths of the behind-the-scenes drama afflicting the Lakers is detailed, with most of the blame for the current state of the organization placed upon the Lakers’ troublingly flawed leadership.
Former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson — who abruptly resigned in April and made some serious waves last week with a no-holds-barred interview — does not escape unscathed in the piece by any measure. The Lakers icon is portrayed as being a bully who utilized intimidation to establish authority during his toxic tenure.
That said, the story about how Pelinka — who once served as Bryant’s agent — claimed in a meeting with players that he set up a meet-and-greet between the NBA star and actor Heath Ledger is next-level bizarre.
“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.”
“The Dark Knight” was released in July 2008, six months after Ledger died. A source with direct knowledge said no such arrangement was made and no dinner ever took place.
There are no shortage of details that depict the Lakers as a directionless organization maligned with inept leadership in Holmes’ piece, but the case can be made that Pelinka fabricating a story about Kobe meeting with a deceased actor certainly takes the cake.