Some of the latest after the deaths of retired superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash:
Lakers game postponed
LOS ANGELES – The NBA postponed the Los Angeles Lakers’ next game against the Clippers on Tuesday night.
The league announced the decision in a statement Monday, saying it “was made out of respect for the Lakers organization.”
The Lakers learned about the crash while flying home from an East Coast road trip Sunday. LeBron James and several other players appeared to be visibly affected by the news when they got off the plane.
James made his first public comments Monday night in an Instagram post including several photos of himself with Bryant. The four-time NBA MVP and 16-time All-Star said he was “heartbroken and devastated,” and had been crying repeatedly while trying to write about Bryant.
James, who joined the Lakers last season, said the two spoke by phone Sunday morning after James passed Bryant for third place on the NBA’s career scoring list Saturday night.
“Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have,” James wrote. “I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially (hashtag)LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this (team) on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me!”
Washington Post reporter suspended
The Washington Post suspended one of its reporters, Felicia Sonmez, after she posted tweets Sunday about Bryant in the hours after his death. More than 100 Post journalists criticized the paper’s decision Monday.
Sonmez on Sunday posted a link on Twitter to a 2016 Daily Beast article that detailed an allegation of sexual assault made against Bryant in 2003. Her tweet appeared amid a flood of public tributes to the retired Los Angeles Lakers star, who died earlier that day in a helicopter crash at age 41.
Sonmez received an e-mail from The Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron, at 5:38 p.m., before she was told that she would be placed on leave. The reporter shared the three-sentence e-mail with The New York Times.
“Felicia,” Baron wrote. “A real lack of judgment to tweet this. Please stop. You’re hurting this institution by doing this.”
Bryant was arrested in 2003 after a complaint by a hotel employee in Colorado. A charge of felony sexual assault was dropped in 2005, and Bryant settled with his accuser out of court, saying in a statement that he believed the encounter with the woman was “consensual,” although he had come to understand that she did not see it the same way.
Bryant reached a settlement with his accuser in 2005.
BBC wrongly airs footage of LeBron
LONDON – As tributes poured in for Bryant, Britain’s BBC news aired footage of another basketball player: LeBron James.
While the News at Ten report opened with a photo of Bryant and his daughter Gianna who were both killed in the crash roughly 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles, it then panned to footage of James, wearing a jersey with “James” written on the back.
The segment sparked fierce backlash on social media and was shared on Twitter by BuzzFeed News editor Matthew Champion. As of Monday morning local time, the clip has been viewed almost 3 million times.
British lawmaker David Lammy joined the growing chorus of voices criticizing the mistake, tweeting: “Kobe Bryant and LeBron James don’t even look similar. If the BBC hired more black producers and editors, appalling mistakes like this simply would not happen.”
Paul Royall who edits the BBC’s News at Six and Ten tweeted an apology on Sunday, calling the mistake “human error.”
Iverson part of same draft
Allen Iverson, the No. 1 overall pick in the Kobe Bryant draft, has one memory he couldn’t stop thinking about. The Philadelphia 76ers were in Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Dec. 29, 1996, during their rookie season.
“He came to my hotel, picked me up, took me to a restaurant,” Iverson said. “When we returned before he left, he asked me, ‘What are you going to do tonight?’ My reply was, ‘I’m going to the club. What are you going to do? He said, ‘I’m going to the gym.’
“That was who he always was, a true student of the game of basketball and also the game of life. He prepared relentlessly. There is something we can all learn from the ‘Mamba’ mentality and from the way my brother lived his life.”
The high school years
PHILADELPHIA – Nancy Beatty’s first time officiating Bryant came during a Christmas tournament in 1995.
Beatty was the first female referee in her district, but she had plenty of experience officiating women’s college basketball.
Early in the game, Beatty’s whistle blew, and Bryant took exception.
“He goes, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ ” Beatty said. “The next time down, I can’t remember, I may have called a foul against him and afterward he comes up to me and he goes, ‘Yeah, you know what you’re doing.’ ”
Even though their first interaction was adversarial, Beatty said kindness was the biggest similarity between Bryant and former Chester star and NBA All-Star Jameer Nelson when they were teenagers.
“Jameer and Kobe were the nicest, most polite guys that played basketball ever,” Nancy said. “They were just super, super human beings and they were both great players.”
Nancy took great pride in her officiating but conceded that there were times she’d get wrapped up in disbelief watching Bryant on the court.
“You would just watch with your mouth open,” Nancy said. “Then, all of a sudden, when I was reffing I’d go ‘Oh my God, I have to watch. I have to be calling the game,’ and I’m here watching this kid dribble between players and then going up and dunking. You saw an NBA player in the making. I mean, you knew he was going to go far.”
Italy town remembers
ROME – Nicknamed “the center of Italy” for its geographic location amid the Apennine Mountains, Rieti was the first stop on Bryant’s seven-year childhood tour of the country.
It’s where Joe Bryant, Kobe’s father, made his Italian basketball debut in 1984 when Kobe was 6.
“He was just a little kid,” Giuseppe Cattani, the president of the Rieti team and a former teammate of the older Bryant, told the Associated Press in an interview Monday.
“He had a unique vivaciousness. He followed his father around and would go out onto the court to shoot around at halftime and after his games,” Cattani added. “There were other kids, too, but you could already tell that he was going to be a great player.”
“It’s like we’ve lost our superhero,” Cattani said. “He was an icon to us, like Spider-Man or Superman. One of these superheroes who can’t die. On the basketball court, they’re immortal.”
At its next home game on Feb. 5, Rieti is planning a tribute to Kobe and will symbolically retire his jersey.
‘A closeness to him’
In Japan, Tetsunori Tanimoto, an official at the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association, in Kobe, central Japan, expressed his deep condolences for Bryant’s death.
“He helped make Kobe Beef known throughout the world,” he said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press Monday.
Kobe got his name, the legend goes, after his father ate Kobe beef during a visit to Japan and loved the taste.
“We have always felt a closeness to him,” Tanimoto said. “It is so sad. And we offer our deepest condolences.”
High demand for Bryant’s book
“The Mamba Mentality” was the best-selling book in any category on Amazon on Sunday evening. No hard copies remained in stock.