The Los Angeles Lakers have not officially been able to get together as a team for practices or scrimmages since the NBA season was put on hold back in March. However, there are rumors swirling that the team has been holding “secret” scrimmages at a well-known facility in NBA circles.
The Lakers opened their practice facility in May, but still had strict guidelines on what could be done with social distancing.
“It’s been pretty minimal as far as the number of bodies in the facility. They try to keep as many people away as they can at a time just so there’s less chance of catching anything, spreading anything, bringing anything in,” Lakers guard Alex Caruso said in an interview with UPROXX. “It’s been one-on-one work with the coach and one-on-one work with the strength coaches and one-on-one work with the training staff, but it’s been good.
Scrimmages were certainly not on the schedule at the practice sessions. However, that wouldn’t have prevented the Lakers from gathering at a private gym to stay in shape with some games.
Noted basketball analyst Bill Simmons discussed the rumors that the Lakers have been holding the secret scrimmages on a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast with New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick.
“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 season 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.”
Bel Air Facility Well-Known Among NBA Players
Redick said players like Chandler Parsons and John Wall have put out videos from a gym in Bel Air and it’s known among NBA players that it’s a facility they could have access to if needed. Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard posted a video on Twitter in 2018 from the building.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported in 2011 that the LeBron James led Heat squad used the facility during a five-game road trip. The Sun Sentinel said the estate is owned by Steve Jackson, chairman of L.A. Gear, and also features a bowling alley, a tennis court, game room and a movie theater.
The court comes complete with championship banners and a piece of the floor from the old Forum in Inglewood.
Players Now Prohibited From Private Workouts
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, June 23 will be the last day players can 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 are restrictions in place.
That being said, Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported that the league is unlikely to punish those who violated that rule.