Kobe Bryant death: BBC apologises for TV news footage mistake

Kobe Bryant (left) and LeBron James (right)

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PA Media

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Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have both played for the LA Lakers

The BBC has apologised after footage of LeBron James was mistakenly included in its coverage of the death of his fellow basketball star Kobe Bryant.

Footage of James beating Bryant’s career points tally appeared in the BBC’s News At Ten programme on Sunday.

But the voiceover did not explain why viewers were seeing James on screen at that stage, rather than Bryant.

Viewers pointed out the error online, criticising the BBC for confusing the two prominent black basketball stars.

Bryant, a five time NBA champion, spent his entire 20 year career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, before he retired in 2016.

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Media captionLeBron James surpasses Kobe Bryant in NBA’s all-time scoring list

The footage included in the programme featured James, who also played for the LA Lakers, surpassing Bryant to become the NBA’s third-highest scorer of all time.

James scored 29 points to reach 33,655 career points, 12 more than Bryant.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were killed alongside seven others, when his private helicopter crashed in southern California on Sunday morning.

At the end of the bulletin, newsreader Reeta Chakrabarti apologised for the earlier on-screen error saying: “In our coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant, in one section of the report, we mistakenly showed pictures of another basketball player, LeBron James.

“We do apologise for the error,” she added.

Within 15 minutes, Paul Royall, editor of BBC News at Six and Ten, posted an apology on Twitter, saying the programme “mistakenly used pictures of LeBron James in one section of the report”.

He added: “We apologise for this human error which fell below our usual standards on the programme.”

Many viewers took to Twitter to condemn the error. Nadine White, a Huffington Post journalist who previously worked with the Voice newspaper, said that “this only adds to our collective grief at this time.”

TV and radio producer Geoff Jein pointed out the footage had shown James’ surname on the back of his basketball shirt.

And Sky News newsreader Mark Austin also pointed out the error.

It is not the first time a BBC programme has apologised for confusing two sports stars.

In July 2018, BBC Newsnight apologised for showing footage of Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram instead of his former teammate-turned-politician Imran Khan.

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