Best, Worst and In-Between of Kobe Bryant Media Coverage: TRAINA THOUGHTS


1. When an enormous news story happens, coverage of that story becomes a story itself.

Obviously, when it comes to a tragedy in which nine people lost their lives, nothing else matters but the well-being of their loved ones and honoring their legacies.

But observations about media coverage of a monumental story, no matter how unimportant in the grand scheme of life, are allowed to be made. 

Nothing could really prepare anyone in media for what happened Sunday with news breaking, via TMZ, of Kobe Bryant's death and later the news that Kobe's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also died in the crash. Right off the bat, with TMZ breaking the story, people were skeptical about the news and hopeful that it would be a mistake. 

When TMZ breaks a big sports story, other outlets are terrified to run with it and wait to confirm the news itself. This then leads to rampant confusion, speculation and anxiety.

The way the news of Sunday's helicopter crash was reported was particularly frustrating. One outlet reported that all of Kobe's children were on the helicopter. Other outlets reported that former Laker Rick Fox was on the helicopter. And pretty much every outlet reported all afternoon, for several hours, that five people died in the crash, when, in fact, it was nine.

The race to be first on a story, the race to send out a piece of information that nobody else has reported, has become so intense that there seems to be no turning back now, and that's downright scary.

2. ESPN was in a near-impossible situation Sunday. The network was airing the Pro Bowl when news of Bryant's death broke. Instead of moving the Pro Bowl to ESPN2 and going with full Kobe coverage on ESPN, the network kept the Pro Bowl on ESPN and aired Kobe coverage on ESPN2. This was a big mistake, in my opinion.

ESPN is the authority on sports. ESPN is still the No. 1 place fans turn to for sports news and information. ESPN is the World Wide Leader in sports. The minute people heard about the tragedy, hundreds of thousands of die-hard sports fans, casual sports fans and fringe sports fans, turned to ESPN. The Kobe coverage should've been there, not a useless exhibition game that was already airing on ABC.

Yes, ESPN is most likely contractually obligated to carry the Pro Bowl on ESPN, but in this case, the contract should've been broken to accommodate as big a sports story as you'll ever have. I understand ESPN has to keep the NFL happy, but I can't believe that even the NFL would've pushed back against ESPN for moving a fake game to ESPN2 so they could serve as many people as possible with Kobe Bryant coverage.

If the defense is that ESPN2 has nearly the same reach as ESPN, all the more reason to move the ridiculous Pro Bowl. This isn't about bashing ESPN. It's about recognizing that ESPN did itself a disservice by continuing with the Pro Bowl instead of catering to all the people who tuned in to the network for Kobe Bryant coverage.

3. Anchoring coverage on ESPN2 were Zubin Mehenti and Michael Eaves, and they did a phenomenal job under stressful and heartbreaking circumstances. The duo interviewed several people throughout the day while keeping up with the continuing breaking news and did so masterfully, with each anchor hitting the right tone throughout the afternoon.

Matt Winer, anchoring on NBATV, also did an outstanding job leading the studio coverage on a surreal day.

4. Mehenti interviewed Jay Williams during ESPN2's coverage. Williams particularly stood out for his raw emotion and extremely powerful words.

5. The voice of the NBA, Mike Breen, who calls games nationally for ESPN and locally in New York for MSG, was on the mic for Sunday night's Nets-Knicks game and got choked up while giving a moving tribute to Bryant.

6. The Lakers' next game is Tuesday night against the Clippers at 10 p.m. ET. The game is scheduled to air on TNT. The network was supposed to debut its new Tuesday-night studio show featuring Adam Lefkoe (host), Dwyane Wade, Candace Parker and Shaq. No word yet on whether the network will stick with that or bring in the Inside the NBA crew of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, but you would have to imagine those three will be part of the coverage in some way.

7. When you are doing live TV, mistakes will happen. When you are doing live TV about an enormous breaking news story, you are especially walking the thinnest of tight ropes. Having said that, it's still surreal that the BBC would run footage of the wrong player when discussing Kobe.

8. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: These three videos that show the similarities between Kobe and Michael Jordan are something you should watch today.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.