Photo: Bill Haber (AP)

I know we already wrote about ESPN’s delightfully detailed account of the Lakers’ deep-seated institutional rot, but this phony story GM Rob Pelinka invented about Kobe Bryant and Heath Ledger is too good not to call specific attention to.

ESPN’s story mentions one time when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gave a talk to the team as part of the Lakers’ “Genius Series” line of inspirational celeb talks. Before Johnson began, Pelinka spoke about the time his former client, Kobe Bryant, watched The Dark Knight, became enraptured with Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, and before a game against the Knicks requested and was granted Ledger’s presence for a dinner. The purpose of this dinner was for Kobe to pick Ledger’s brain as to how the actor got so “locked into” his character, which Kobe later put to use in the game. Here’s video of Pelinka telling the story:

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ESPN helpfully transcribed the relevant parts:

“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 problem should be obvious. The Dark Knight came out in July of 2008. Ledger died in January of 2008, when, according to director Christopher Nolan, the movie was “halfway through the edit process.” So unless Kobe somehow got his hands on an extremely early screener that not even Ledger himself had seen (the aforementioned Nolan quote goes on to say that all Ledger had seen of the movie prior to his death was the intro bank robbery scene), Pelinka completely made up this story.

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Not only does the timeline itself make the prospect of Kobe seeing the movie and then meeting with Ledger about it an exceedingly dubious proposition, but the ESPN article even has a specific denial of the dinner by an anonymous source oddly close to the matter whose identity we couldn’t possibly speculate on so we’ll just call the person “Bobe Kryant” as shorthand: “A source with direct knowledge said no such arrangement was made and no dinner ever took place.”

As evidenced by his signature shoes over the years, Kobe does seem to have a special affinity toward The Dark Knight and Ledger’s Joker. It just doesn’t appear to have gone far enough for him to have communed with a medium to raise the dead man’s spirit so that Kobe might ask the spectral figure how method acting as applied to comic book movies might help him score a couple more buckets.