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Professional athletes keep their sport close to home

After signing with Lakers @shaq converted his home's tennis court into hoops court with a 'Superman' symbol

These are not your ordinary garage basketball hoops.

Over-the-top homes are common among big name professional athletes, as massive contracts, competition and ego have produced awe-inducing purchases. So it should come as no surprise that the homes also include outsized amenities catering to their owners' respective professions.

When Shaquille O'Neal, then with the Orlando Magic, was in Los Angeles to film the action-comedy "Kazaam," the notoriously bad free-throw shooter had one request for his $20,000-a-month rental in Beverly Hills: an area for shooting baskets. After signing with the Lakers the following year, in 1996, he converted the tennis court at a Beverly Hills home he bought into a basketball court. It featured a blue hue and a "Superman" symbol.

Olympic gold medal diver Greg Louganis' Malibu property had a pool, of course, but it certainly wasn't garden variety. The home, which he sold this year, featured a custom swimming pool and spa with a diving platform personalized for the diving champion. The Olympic rings insignia, set off by blue tiling, added a distinctive finish to the bottom of the pool.

Some athletes resort to unconventional means to keep their sport close to home.

Built along a hillside in Hollywood Hills West, Barry Zito's contemporary residence doesn't offer much in the way of flat land. However, the Cy Young Award-winner managed to outfit a small strip on the tiered grounds with a practice mound complete with pitching rubber and home plate, and set off by views of the Los Angeles skyline.

Other athletes opt to stay away from their sports — at least at home.

During an expansion of his Hawaii home in 1989, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar added a tennis court — said to be a retirement gift from the Lakers' brass — to his compound. Seven years later, while renovating his Beverly Crest residence, the legendary Laker again passed on adding basketball hardwood, opting instead for an indoor squash court.

For former Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre, now with the Texas Rangers, one sport wasn't enough when it came to his onetime mansion-estate in Bradbury. Tailored to his trade, the home featured a 2,500-square-foot rec room outfitted as an indoor batting cage. But that was just the start. The property offered a full range of athletic outlets: a tennis court, a basketball court, two tees and two putting greens with sand traps.

For athletes who can afford them, sports-related amenities provide convenience, particularly when it comes to training.

L.A. Galaxy star Landon Donovan would have been hard-pressed to squeeze a practice area onto his former property in Manhattan Beach; however, the Tree Section residence featured several sports-related perks in a secondary structure. Among them was a gym, a massage room and a cold plunge — all requisite tools for the post-training regimen.

neal.leitereg@latimes.com

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