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Former NBA player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people were killed on Jan. 26 when the helicopter they were riding in crashed in Calabasas, Calif. Online, some people are claiming that the crash wasn’t an accident.
"After LeBron James passes Kobe on the all time NBA scoring list, Kobe’s personal helicopter crashes only a day later," the Jan. 26 post says. "LeBron has to hit the 33,644 point mark to pass Kobe Bryant & become the NBA’s 3rd highest scorer in history. The ‘33’ is significant. The ‘6’ is significant. And I’ve been speaking on the importance of the ‘44’ ritual in pro sports for months now. To me, this looks like a ritual sacrifice in order for the LA Lakers to win their 17th championship, & for LeBron to get his 4th ring. I believe this was also a ritual sacrifice for the 49ers to win the Superbowl."
It goes on about the significance of other numbers, like Bryant’s birthday, before concluding: "This definitely makes me believe that his untimely death has been planned for a while now."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
On Jan. 25, Los Angeles Laker LeBron James passed Bryant’s all-time scoring record. Playing against the Philadelphia 76ers that day, James finished with 29 points, bringing his career total to 33,655, according to the Washington Post. Bryant finished his career with 33,643.
Bryant tweeted his congratulations that night: "Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644."
But there’s no evidence to suggest that Bryant, a former Lakers star, was killed in a ritual sacrifice, as the Instagram post claims.
Rather, Bryant’s plane crashed in fog dense enough that the Los Angeles Police Department grounded its helicopters.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived in California after the incident, and the agency is working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the helicopter’s manufacturer and the company that made its engine to collect evidence about the crash, according to the Post. The investigation will look at weather data, radar information air traffic control communications, maintenance logs and the pilot’s record.
We rate this Instagram post Pants on Fire.
Instagram post, Jan. 26, 2020
The Washington Post, As LeBrown James passes Kobe Bryant, a once-unthinkable mark is in play, Jan. 25, 2020
Kobe Bryant tweet, Jan. 25, 2020
The Washington Post, Kobe Bryant crash: NTSB investigators arrive in California, Jan. 27, 2020
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