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#pounditFriday, June 25, 2021

Report: Lakers knew about Kobe Bryant’s death roughly 30 minutes before TMZ broke story

Kobe Bryant

TMZ has faced a lot of criticism for the way it broke the news of Kobe Bryant’s death on Sunday, and much of the finger-pointing seems unwarranted. There was initially a belief that TMZ reported on Kobe’s death before the Bryant family was informed, but we can now safely conclude that was not the case.

When ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne spoke about the tragedy on “First Take” earlier this week, she reported that Los Angeles Lakers executives received a call from Bryant’s longtime brand manager shortly after 11 a.m. local time. The crash happened a little before 10 a.m., and Shelburne noted that the Lakers were informed about it before any media outlets published stories on it. You can hear Shelburne’s comments at the 3:57 mark below:

“They didn’t hear about it in media reports,” Shelburne said of the Lakers. “They got (the call) maybe 25 minutes or so before the world found out.”

If the Lakers’ ownership group and front office knew before the TMZ report and found out from Kobe’s brand manager, we can be almost certain that Bryant’s wife Vanessa was informed about her husband’s and daughter’s death before the Lakers were.

Shelburne’s report meshes with what TMZ founder Harvey Levin said Tuesday, which is that TMZ had permission from Kobe’s “people” to release the news. Levin admitted it is a fair criticism to say the families of the other crash victims may have found out through the media if they knew their loved ones were also on board, but he defended not being able to sit on such a major story.

There were many significant mistakes made as people were scrambling to find out more about the crash on Sunday, but it does not appear accurate to say Vanessa Bryant learned of her husband’s death from TMZ.

More Larry Brown Sports coverage of Kobe Bryant’s death:

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Other victims of the helicopter crash:
John Altobelli, junior college baseball coach, also died in helicopter crash
Christina Mauser, girls’ basketball coach, among the helicopter crash victims
Sarah Chester, daughter Payton were also killed in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash
Ara Zobayan was the pilot in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

Tributes to Kobe:
NBA players changing jersey numbers in honor of Kobe Bryant
Bill Belichick shares touching anecdote in tribute to Kobe Bryant
UConn honors Gianna Bryant with own jersey, spot on the bench
Video: Shaq gets emotional talking about Kobe Bryant on TNT
Dallas Mavericks retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey
Video: Raptors, Spurs start game with amazing tribute to Kobe Bryant
Shaq posts heartfelt tribute to Kobe Bryant
Michael Jordan releases statement on death of ‘little brother’ Kobe Bryant
Video: Doc Rivers breaks down crying talking about Kobe Bryant
Phil Jackson calls Kobe Bryant ‘a chosen one’ in statement on his death
NBA commissioner Adam Silver issues statement on death of Kobe Bryant
Video: Dwyane Wade posts emotional message reacting to Kobe Bryant’s death
Kendrick Perkins extends olive branch to Kevin Durant after Kobe Bryant’s death
Gilbert Arenas vows to begin coaching career like Kobe Bryant urged him to
Video: Emotional Mike Breen sums up NBA world’s emotions about Kobe Bryant’s death
Trae Young’s huge game was full of Kobe Bryant-related statistical coincidences

More coverage:
Investigators release chilling drone footage from Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site
Video: Kobe Bryant helicopter audio released
Media errors, rumors, poor judgment run rampant in reporting of Kobe Bryant news
TMZ says they had permission from Kobe’s people to report Bryant had died
NBA postpones Tuesday’s Lakers-Clippers game after Kobe Bryant’s death
Kobe Bryant recently filed for ‘Mambacita’ trademark for daughter Gianna
Kobe Bryant checked in on Shaq’s son Shareef morning of helicopter crash
No, Rick Fox did not die in helicopter crash that killed Kobe, Gianna Bryant
Lakers fans start memorial to Kobe Bryant outside Staples Center
Kobe Bryant’s last tweet was congratulating LeBron James on passing him
Sports world stunned over Kobe Bryant news
Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash – dead at 41

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