Backlash grows against BBC for using LeBron James footage in Kobe Bryant death report

The BBC has been forced to apologise after it mistakenly used footage of LeBron James in a news report on the death of former basketball star Kobe Bryant.

The mistake, described by the BBC as a “human error”, sparked a fierce backlash on social media.

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “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.”

A screengrab of footage broadcast by the BBC of LeBron James in its report on Kobe Bryant's death. (BBC)
Kobe Bryant, left, and LeBron James share a joke during an LA Lakers game on 29 December, 2019. (Getty)

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Bryant, 41, considered one of the greatest ever basketball players, was killed alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others when their helicopter crashed in Southern California on Sunday morning.

The BBC's segment on Bryant in its News At Ten programme mistakenly included footage of basketball superstar James, who currently plays for the Lakers.

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Several Twitter users accused the BBC of racism for mixing up the two black basketball stars.

One Twitter user said: "Who cut this????? BBC news using footage of LeBron James instead of Kobe Bryant in their obit!!!!! IT EVEN SAYS JAMES ON HIS SHIRT."

Another wrote: "Can you explain why you showed footage of LeBron James rather than Kobe on the BBC1 10pm news? Pathetic BBC!!!"

LeBron James, left, and Kobe Bryant were opponents in 2016. (Reuters)

And another commented: "Absolute schoolboy error."

Paul Royall, editor of BBC News at Six and Ten, apologised for the mistake and blamed "human error".

He tweeted: "In tonight's coverage of the death of Kobe Bryant on #BBCNewsTen 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."

Bryant was a global superstar and one of the highest-profile sporting figures in the US.

He is survived by his wife Vanessa and three daughters.