The Thunder practiced Saturday in Beverly Hills. Sounds cool. Sort of was. But not for the reason you think.
The Thunder practiced at the Beverly Hills Community Center on Santa Monica Boulevard. Sounds swanky. But the place probably was built before Jethro and Ellie Mae hit town. No way had the place been updated since the ’40s.
Box gym. Maybe four feet from the sideline to the walls. Two working baskets. Windows from a second-floor room overlooking the court, with little kids peering down in between karate classes.
Of course, the place was right up the Thunder’s alley. The Thunder has practiced at Santa Monica High School during previous Los Angeles playoff trips, and that, too, sounds really cool but is in reality rather run down.
But the Thunder goes for convenience, and you can’t blame a soul. Getting a couple of buses around Greater LA will zap the enthusiasm of the most fired-up ballteam. Far better to practice somewhere close. The Thunder historically has stayed out on the beach in Santa Monica when visiting LA, but that hotel was booked for one of the trips this season, so the Thunder switched to the Beverly Wilshire. That meant a switch to practice at UCLA (on Friday morning) and Beverly Hills (Saturday).
One of the interesting things about Los Angeles is the way most of America feels they know quite a bit about it, even if you’ve never visited. Television and movies have spotlighted Greater LA so much that even the streets are well-known to the masses. Ventura Boulevard, Olympic Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, Wilshire.
The various communities that surround LA are the same, starting with Beverly Hills and Hollywood and Inglewood and Santa Monica and the list goes on. Those places have their own distinct personalities and culture. Beverly Hills certainly is swanky. The community center was not much, but we parked two blocks away in a tony neighborhood with cool houses and and fancy cars and parking meters and grocery delivery via bicycle.
We shot a video in the neighborhood. Ironically, we were on Durant Drive.
After the practice, it was time to go to work. We got back on the 405 and hit more traffic. You’d think you could avoid stop-and-go traffic at noon on a Saturday, but no. We dropped RFD back at the hotel and went around the corner to an In-N-Out Burger, which of course A.C. raves about, being from California. I was glad to go. More evidence for me that In-N-Out is a really good burger joint. About the same as Wendy’s. I just don’t buy all the hype. And nothing changed Saturday. Really crowded, waited a long time on our food. The fries were mediocre. The shake was nothing special. The cheeseburger was really good. Five Guys is so much better than In-N-Out, it’s not even funny.
I went back to the hotel and worked. I know a pristine-weather Saturday in Los Angeles sounds like a high time, but I had too much to do. A Steven Adams column. A post-game blog. Start work on Kevin Durant material for a special MVP project we’re doing next week. I worked until sundown. A.C. and Johnny Damon went out on the town, but not me. I was bushed. I went downstairs and had some nachos in the sports bar while watching a little Portland-San Antonio, then I went back upstairs and crashed.