Clippers' Ekpe Udoh opens the book on interacting with fans

Clippers reserve Ekpe Udoh started a book club to interact with fans via Twitter

It sounds like pure fantasy.

An NBA player starts a book club and flies a dozen people to Dallas to watch a movie screening of the book they've discussed on Twitter, paying for all their travel expenses.

Much to the delight of its members, Ekpe Udoh's book club is a work of nonfiction, though even its creator sometimes finds himself in mild disbelief over the concept.

"Who would think that an NBA player would have a book club?" Udoh said Wednesday.

It's a simple concept, really. The Clippers reserve center-forward announces on Twitter which book the club will read and the first 25 people to sign up receive a free copy.

Udoh then distributes, via email, a reading schedule and sets a time for discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #EkpesBookClub. Udoh moderates the Twitter discussions, which can last more than an hour and usually include about 20 participants.

"It's really good, intense conversations," Udoh said. "People have fun with it."

The next discussion, regarding the "Serial" podcast, is scheduled for Thursday evening and could include an undisclosed Clippers teammate.

"I'm going to see if he shows," Udoh said.

Udoh, 27, started the club in the summer of 2013 while playing for Milwaukee at the suggestion of Dan Smyczek, the Bucks' vice president of public relations. Udoh confessed he wasn't much of a reader before then but was seeking some wholesome entertainment while spending the summer in Miami.

"Instead of indulging in that lifestyle," Udoh said, "I went and got some books."

His favorite so far has been "Unbroken," Laura Hillenbrand's biography of World War II hero Louis Zamperini, who survived a plane crash and 2 1/2 years as a prisoner of war. Udoh said he intended to fly several club members to Los Angeles for a screening of the movie, which will be released on Christmas.

Udoh flew some members to Dallas in July for a screening of "The Fault in Our Stars," putting them up at a four-star hotel and buying dinner.

"We talked about the movie and the book and how they compared," Udoh said.

Udoh has been about what the Clippers expected, not doing much statistically but bringing a defense-minded presence to the limited minutes he receives as the last big man on the bench. He scored his first basket of the season Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It's no mystery what Clippers Coach Doc Rivers wants Udoh to bring to his team.

"Block shots, just be in the right position," Udoh said. "That's my role and I know my role."

Etc.

Reserve forward Reggie Bullock was unavailable against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday after spraining his right ankle earlier this week. He is considered day to day. … Reserve forward Chris Douglas-Roberts, who has been sidelined since last month by a strained right Achilles' tendon, is expected to resume practicing Friday, Rivers said.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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