BBC's evening news program BBC News at Ten made an apology after their unfortunate mistake of showing footage of NBA star LeBron James while reporting on the death of Kobe Bryant.
On Sunday, NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died with seven other passengers in a helicopter crash in the hills of Calabasas, California. The full list of victims hasn't been released by authorities, but family members of the victims confirmed their identities in tributes posted online.
In addition to Kobe and Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, the other victims have been identified as husband John, wife Keri and daughter Alyssa Altobelli; mother Sarah and daughter Payton Chester; coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
The BBC ran a segment paying tribute to Bryant and started with a photo of the late Bryant and his daughter, but then cut to clips of LeBron James out on the court.
I genuinely cannot believe that the actual BBC News at 10 just did this https://t.co/n6csMV9OOG— Matthew Champion (@Matthew Champion)1580076991.0
A clip of James high-fiving another teammate showed while the reporter was talking about Bryant:
"His list of achievements is long. An all-star, an NBA champion and an Olympic gold medalist."
"He was unashamedly competitive. And he was deeply frustrated when his playing career was cut short by injuries."
The gaffe did not go unnoticed by Twitter.
Users mocked the British broadcaster.
@matthewchampion "RIP Black Basketball Man" - BBC News, January 2020— BoJack Horseman, new judge on FHBA: Los Angeles (@BoJack Horseman, new judge on FHBA: Los Angeles)1580078355.0
@bojack90s @matthewchampion We all look alike, remember— Mrs H T Esq. (not an M.P.) (@Mrs H T Esq. (not an M.P.))1580078810.0
@matthewchampion BBC be like: RIP Kobe Bryant https://t.co/EHm7ygHYaH— Trey the Explainer (@Trey the Explainer)1580133777.0
@matthewchampion What I don’t get is how they show a picture of Kobe and his daughter AND THEN show clips of LeBron. https://t.co/r5waXCSdbI— Marco 🍁 (@Marco 🍁)1580102932.0
The team jersey should have been a strong indicator to avoid the snafu.
@matthewchampion @MarkDiStef clue: name on the back of a player's shirt = their er name.— guy evans (@guy evans)1580077611.0
@matthewchampion How on earth does that happen!! His shirt says 'James' that should be your first clue folks!— The CustardTV (@The CustardTV)1580078025.0
@matthewchampion Their names are LITERALLY on their jerseys like? https://t.co/38xTX3ZEWp— Dr. Whomst (@Dr. Whomst)1580116380.0
@matthewchampion @shaistaAziz I don't know anything about basketball... But I can still read the names on the back of the shirts 🙈— E T (@E T)1580109778.0
Some viewers theorized that the BBC may have scrambled to gather footage for the breaking news.
BBC video editor scrambled to get stock footage of Kobe Bryant and picked out LeBron James footage instead. I bet t… https://t.co/JTV5q9uUJx— Tom Warren (@Tom Warren)1580080261.0
@matthewchampion It was a genuine mistake by an individual who no doubt is very embarrassed by the error. Go easy w… https://t.co/uCPN2UqGfW— Padraig Harnett (@Padraig Harnett)1580136581.0
Some refused to let the BBC off the hook.
@matthewchampion For anyone who asks how this can be possible... It's possible in a society where POC are structur… https://t.co/3WZxEb7iyQ— Beate Beller (@Beate Beller)1580079407.0
@matthewchampion There's been a real smell of decay and decline around @BBCNews for some time and it's just honking… https://t.co/F1zU1U2u5u— Squinter (@Squinter)1580081792.0
@matthewchampion It may have been an accident but it stems from the fact that all those with skill and integrity ha… https://t.co/cNTB3A8o8Q— Northern Resister (@Northern Resister)1580080265.0
@matthewchampion I can not believe this. The lack of effort to check this going out on BBC News. Sometimes I’m so e… https://t.co/D2dIzVesN3— James (@James)1580106596.0
@matthewchampion The irony is that the BBC are constantly trying to show themselves to be the most diverse organisa… https://t.co/evNcEmsuyH— Rachel Esner (@Rachel Esner)1580125397.0
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James don't even look similar. If the BBC hired more black producers and editors, appalling… https://t.co/4PZXnzWOaY— David Lammy (@David Lammy)1580107624.0
Others asked people to focus on the victims in the wake of such tragedy.
@matthewchampion Whilst I do love a bit of BBC bashing, might I suggest we all can the outrage for a while, and foc… https://t.co/4wEXGG92nf— Leo Tsang (@Leo Tsang)1580107737.0
The BBC issued a statement calling what happened, a "human error."
"In tonight's coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant on BBC News at Ten we mistakenly used pictures of LeBron James in one section of the report."
"We apologise for this human error which fell below our usual standards on the programme."
In tonight’s coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant on #BBCNewsTen we mistakenly used pictures of LeBron James in one… https://t.co/EPTthePZ3m— Paul Royall (@Paul Royall)1580078751.0
It’s not a “human error” to confuse two black people who look nothing alike, one of whom has his name on his back.… https://t.co/DqGAmKXvjj— Monisha Rajesh (@Monisha Rajesh)1580082499.0
Witnesses of the crash recalled hearing sputtering noises from the engine before the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crashed into the hill side before 10 a.m.
The exact cause remains under investigation.
Former President Barack Obama also expressed his sorrow for Bryant and Gianna.
"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act."
"To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To… https://t.co/YlRRr9ng7Q— Barack Obama (@Barack Obama)1580075776.0
Kurt Deetz, a pilot who used to fly Bryant, said the weather may have played a role in the crash over mechanical failure.
He told the Los Angeles Times:
"The likelihood of a catastrophic twin engine failure on that aircraft—it just doesn't happen."
Bryant played with the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons and was the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points.
The 18-time all-star was 41.