LA Clippers Are Finding Out
When the Los Angeles Clippers built a training facility on the Westside four years ago they were happy with the location.
“Most of our players live within 10 minutes,” said team spokesman Joe Safety. “It’ going to be really convenient.”
It is, but there’s one hitch. The site at 6951 South Centinela Ave. between Jefferson and Sepulveda originally had a Culver City address with the city’s 90230 zip code. With the emergence of Playa Vista, that changed in some computers, but not all.
“We didn’t receive packages for a year,” said Safety. “Packages sent to us bounced all over the country. Some were just returned to sender.”
Safety and I talked one recent day at the facility. Then we went outside to continue the interview. We saw a FedEx truck pull into the parking lot and Safety observed with a smile, “See? Things have improved.”
A few minutes later Safety pointed to a tall building down the street from the facility.
“There was the Nordstrom Rack hostage situation a few weeks ago,” he said, “I watched the progress on the news and television stations all reported it was happening in Westchester.”
Not Culver City, not Playa Vista but Westchester.
Not so fast.
A rider trying to set up a date with a driving service recently gave the proper address and city, Playa Vista, but was told it didn’t come up in their computer. The caller was urged to call back with a correct address.
He researched the problem and was told the zip code was the key and he had the right one. But he didn’t have the right city, which they said was Culver City.
Wherever it is, the Clippers have a gem.
Owner Donald Sterling paid $50 million and spared no expense in creating a player-friendly environment, complete with a replica of the playing floor at Staples Center where the Clippers play home games, a weight room and a swimming pool where players train and then relax after practices.
The facility is so popular in the NBA that teams arriving in LA to play the Lakers often conduct their morning shoot-arounds there. NBA sources tell me the Clippers aren’t required to make the facility available but do so as a courtesy. And, of course, they show NBA players what they have which might give them an advantage when free agents shop for new teams.
The Clippers surrounded star players Blake Griffin and Chris Paul with an improved supporting cast this season, went on a 17-game winning streak and remain one of the league’s best teams.
The Clippers reached the midway point of their 82-game schedule last week with a 32-9 record, tied with Oklahoma City for the best record in the Western Conference.
Many professional teams now have sponsors who pay well to have their name on the facility, such as Staples Center and the Lakers’ Toyota Sports Facility in El Segundo. But the Clippers haven’t defrayed costs by going that route.
“We considered it at the beginning but decided against it,” said Team President Andy Roeser.
Four years later it hasn’t happened.