Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka once recounted a fake story in which Kobe Bryant had dinner with the late actor Heath Ledger, ESPN's Baxter Holmes reveals in a new story detailing the dysfunction in Los Angeles organization.
According to Holmes, actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson addressed the team in March 2018 as part of the team's "Genius Talks" series and Pelinka also told a story about Bryant and Ledger.
"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, according to Holmes. "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."
However, the film was released six months after Ledger died in 2008 and Holmes reported no dinner ever occurred. According to Holmes, Pelinka's "storytelling" is viewed as disingenuous.
Holmes' story offers new details into the Lakers attempts to rebuild over the last few year, including how former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson used "intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority."
Johnson abruptly stepped down from his position before the Lakers' final game of the season against the Trail Blazers. In an impromptu press conference, Johnson told reporters that his position as the team's president did not allow him to be himself. Last week, Johnson appeared on ESPN’s First Take where he said "backstabbing" by Pelinka was one of the reasons he resigned.
The story also sheds light on LeBron James' agent and business partner Rich Paul who reportedly told NBA commissioner Adam Silver that he did not believe Luke Walton was the right coach for the Lakers. The Lakers agreed to part ways with Walton on April 12. Walton has been replaced by Frank Vogel.