San Diego, twice NBA loser, perfect host for 3-team camps

SAN DIEGO (AP) – Ty Lue was seven when the San Diego Clippers packed their basketballs and uniforms and drove the 120-mile freeway to Los Angeles after the 1983-84 season, becoming the second NBA team to drop “America’s Finest City” in 13 years.

Even at 44, the second-year Los Angeles Clippers coach is far too young to remember this struggling team, which included the oft-injured San Diego native Bill Walton as well as Norm Nixon and Terry Cummings.

But Lue knows enough about the tourist and marine town that his Clippers are hosting a training camp in San Diego this week.

The Brooklyn Nets and the Denver Nuggets had the same idea. All three teams camp in comfortable gyms at San Diego’s three largest universities.

For Lue, the reason for the move is simple: “I wanted to come here,” he laughs.

There’s another draw for the three teams, all of whom had championship hopes derailed by injury last year, going down to San Diego.

“Just to get away from it all, focus on the hoops, create team camaraderie, take the guys away from their families and just lock themselves into the team for five days,” Lue said. “I thought it would be good for us. It has been good. … Just the link, just trying to find out more about each other.

There are also plans for golf and some fishing for the Clippers, who reached the Western Conference final for the first time before losing in six games to the Phoenix Suns.

They host a training camp at the San Diego State Training Gymnasium, where Kawhi Leonard played for two seasons before jumping to the NBA. Leonard is in rehabilitation after having surgery on his right knee a month ago. A partially ripped right ACL during the playoffs kept him out of the conference finals.

All these decades later, it turns out there’s a bit of love between the Clippers and San Diego.

Although Leonard is not on the field, the Clippers remember SDSU’s most famous player by the large Klaw logo – based on one of Leonard’s big hands – on a center JAM wall. Leonard often works there during the summers when he is in good health.

In early 2020, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, then-coach Doc Rivers and the entire team traveled to San Diego to attend the halftime ceremony when SDSU pulled out No.15. by Leonard at Viejas Arena.

Earlier this month, as he opened his team’s new $ 1.8 billion arena in Inglewood, Ballmer – who bought the team in 2014 – said Viejas Arena was ” fun ”he had ever been in and was“ inspiring ”for his team. new arena with 18,000 seats.

Seven miles through Mission Valley, Steve Nash’s Nets train in the 5,100-seat Jenny Craig clubhouse at the University of San Diego, nicknamed “The Slim Gym.”

About 13 miles north, reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets are training at UC San Diego. The Nuggets have already camped at SDSU. The team said UCSD’s 5,000-seat RIMAC Arena offers more space to accommodate the camp’s expanded roster than its training site in Denver.

It’s unclear whether the teams will cross paths in San Diego, but the Clippers will host the Nuggets on Monday night in an exhibition game at Staples Center. The Nuggets – swept away from the second round by Phoenix – then travel to San Francisco to face the Warriors on Wednesday night. The Nets face the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center before returning home.

NBA teams have previously held a camp in San Diego – which lost the Rockets to Houston in 1971 – but it’s believed to be the first time three teams have trained here.

Nash believes billionaire owner Joe Tsai, who has a home in La Jolla and also owns the San Diego Seals lacrosse team, has something to do with the Nets’ change of odds for camp.

The Nets arrived in an overcast sky.

“I was hoping for a little more sun, but we’ll manage,” Nash joked. “It’s obviously a beautiful part of the world. It’s great for us to step out of our gym for a week and try to cool things off, enjoy and bond. Obviously we want to do the things on the pitch that make us come out of this week feeling like we’ve laid the groundwork, but also being able to come out of something special like this and the connection is important as well.

The Nets lost in the second round of the playoffs to eventual NBA champion Milwaukee.

James Harden missed almost 43 seconds of Games 1-4 with a hamstring injury, and Kyrie Irving missed the last three games with a sprained right ankle.

The Nets were to visit Tsai at his home in La Jolla. After their first practice, they started playing golf.

“I’m about to go to Torrey Pines, get some shots, hopefully I can hit straight, not lose balls,” said Nets goalie Bruce Brown.

Also on the program: video games.

“We can relax, play video games, I’ll beat anybody in there, in some FIFA,” Brown said. “I have already beaten Sekou (Doumbouya) in FIFA, so everyone wants to challenge me, I’m ready.”


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