That time Kobe Bryant asked Heath Ledger about 'The Dark Knight' and how to destroy Gotham

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant drew inspiration from “The Dark Knight.” (Getty Images)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted a video of himself partaking in the Los Angeles Lakers’ “Genius Series,” in which the team invites speakers to address their players as a motivational technique.

This is great on its own, of course, because The Rock is a genius, and Lonzo Ball needs one in his life.

It’s also great because Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka shared a fantastic story about how this Genius Series came to be, involving Kobe Bryant, “The Dark Knight” and Madison Square Garden:

“There was one time when Kobe, who I worked with for 18 years, was going back to play in Madison Square Garden, and he had just seen ‘The Dark Knight,'” said Pelinka. “Obviously, you guys saw that movie, and he’s like, ‘Hey, hook me up with dinner with Heath Ledger, because he got so locked in to that role. I want to know how he mentally went there.’ So, he had dinner with Heath, and he talked about how he locks in for a role. And Kobe used some of that in his game against the Knicks.”

Ledger posthumously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” He died during the film’s editing process in January 2008, six months before the film’s release, which presumably means Kobe watched a screener of the film before it was finished.

The Lakers played the Knicks once in Madison Square Garden after Ledger had finished filming his scenes for “The Dark Knight” and before his death from a prescription drug overdose. On Dec. 23, 2007, Bryant finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in a 95-90 victory against the Knicks in Gotham. That was the night he became the youngest player ever to eclipse 20,000 career points, and he spent much of the fourth quarter talking trash with Spike Lee and Chris Rock on the sidelines.

Evidently, this was Kobe’s version of the Joker saying, “Why so serious? Let’s put a smile on that face.

We knew Kobe drew inspiration from darkness, because he once told us, “Every Musecage is powered by two forces — light musings and dark musings. Light musings make you feel good and happy. Dark musings make you feel bad and angry. … Dark musings just might be our greatest source of energy and power. If you’re looking for your inner beast, it’s most likely living inside of a dark muse.”

We just didn’t know what lengths he went to, using Heath Ledger’s Joker to destroy the Knicks.

P.S. This story was incredible, but the best part of The Rock’s speech — of which there were many great parts — was when Pelinka called The Rock “Hollywood’s biggest star,” The Rock corrected him to say “sexiest,” and Pelinka awkwardly hugged him. Then, Pelinka said, “We call these Genius Talks,” and The Rock was like, “Great,” I’m ready for my Genius Talk now, as he took off his jacket to reveal this shirt:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a true genius. (YouTube)

This should be The Rock’s presidential announcement speech in 2020.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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