There’s a rumor going around that the Los Angeles Lakers have been holding private team practices during the pandemic at the private Staples Replica in Bel Air, which really doesn’t sit well with former MLB executive turned podcaster David Samson.
Samson slammed the Lakers over the allegation, comparing it to PED use and sing-stealing in baseball on his podcast “Nothing Personal With David Samson.”
“If you’re the NBA you’ve got to look into this. To me this is as serious as PEDs and this is as serious as sign-stealing by the Astros, and the Red Sox and the Yankees and every other team,” Samson said. “Now before you take this as a bad take, let me explain why it’s not. The whole point of PEDs and sign-stealing and why it’s an issue is that what leagues try to do is make sure there’s a level playing field where the biggest differentiating factor is the talent of the athletes and the talent of the front office.”
Bel Air Facility Well-Known in NBA Circles
The Lakers opened their practice facility up in May, but followed strict guidelines that prohibited things like scrimmages.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Tuesday was the last day players could work out at private gyms. He added that several Lakers, LeBron included, spent the majority of their hiatus playing on private courts rather than at the facility, where there were more restrictions in place.
Starting June 23, players who have been working out at private gyms will be prohibited without prior NBA approval. Several Lakers, LeBron included, spent the majority of their hiatus playing on private courts rather than at the facility, where there are restrictions in place.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) June 17, 2020
Many teams and star players have practiced at the facility over the years — from the 2011 Miami Heat to Blazers star Damian Lillard. But obviously, not every team has had a replica court to practice at during this unprecedented time, which is the core of Samson’s argument.
When you don’t post your workouts that means they never happened 🤷🏽♂️ … so here’s what y’all love to see pic.twitter.com/wOhsy2irNN
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) September 15, 2018
“When there’s quarantine and there’s a rule that there will not be anybody working out, that’s because there are many players who don’t have access to a Bel Air mansion court, they’re not invited by LeBron James,” Samson said. “And certainly they’re not taking the chance to actually play as a team and make sure that team chemistry stays the same.
“I think if LeBron James says, ‘Hey, we’re having some practices. … I’m gonna need you to be here at 4 p.m. on Wednesday’ guess what, the players are gonna be there at 4 p.m. on Wednesday,” Samson says.
JJ Redick: Lakers Practicing in Bel Air ‘Makes a Lot of Sense’
“Have you heard, there’s this L.A. rumor right now and I haven’t been able to crack it, of all the Lakers are playing at some rich guy’s house,” Simmons said. “And it’s all like ‘nobody talk about this,’ but have you heard about different rumors, and what teams are doing, and all that? Are you expecting people to show up (to Orlando) out of shape? What do you think?
Redick, who spent four seasons in Los Angeles with the Clippers, backed up those rumors.
“All right, so in regards to the Lakers, I’ve heard similar things. Obviously nothing has been posted on social media providing us with the evidence that we need, but there is a gentleman, I think his house is in Bel-Air, who has a Staples Center replica in his backyard,” Redick said. “It’s a full court, locker rooms, weight rooms, steam shower, whatever you want. I’ve worked out there before. My assumption is those guys are working out there, that would make a lot of sense.”