Lakers’ Stephen Zimmerman reflects on shootings in his Las Vegas hometown

Stephen Zimmerman, far right, and his Lakers teammates lock arms during the national anthem before the start of a preseason game against the Timberwolves.
(Robert Laberge / Getty Images)

Around 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 1, Stephen Zimmerman, a reserve center on the Lakers’ training camp roster, checked in with his friends from back home to make sure everyone was OK.

Zimmerman spent his formative years living in Las Vegas, from ages 10 to 20. He went to bed that night, like so many did, not expecting the historic tragedy that unfolded later when a gunman killed 58 people from windows in a 32nd floor suite at Mandalay Bay and injured more than 500 others during a music festival.

“That’s something that’s going to affect Las Vegas forever,” Zimmerman said.


On Saturday the Lakers will travel to Las Vegas for their Sunday game against the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers, Kings, T-Mobile Arena, and AEG and MGM Resorts International, which own and operate T-Mobile Arena, will donate the proceeds of the game to benefit victims of the shooting, their families and first responders.

The game will be a homecoming for Zimmerman, whose family will be there, but he’ll make this trip with a heavier heart after what his hometown has been through.

“It hurts,” Zimmerman said. “It feels way more personal. It’s one of those things that’s like, you never know how it feels until it happens to you and it feels like it happened to me. It’s kind of hard to describe.”

Zimmerman was lucky. Although he had some friends who did attend the concert, they were safe. He watched their videos on social media, and felt the fear they experienced. One close friend’s parents and aunts and uncles were there, but they left before the horror began.

In the few spare moments he had after waking up and before going to practice, Zimmerman and his girlfriend, who was born and raised in Las Vegas, talked about what happened. They talked about how they could help. He was pleased to hear the Lakers’ commitment of the game’s proceeds.

“Anything I can help [with],” Zimmerman said. “Luckily, Las Vegas was helpful. We had three-hour lines for blood drives and a whole bunch of stuff going on. Just seeing what I can do.”

Ball limited in practice

Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball was limited in practice on Friday with a sprained ankle. The team has listed him as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Kings.

“It’s getting better every day, still day-to-day, got out there today, tried to practice a little bit, but I was limited,” Ball said. “But try to take positives, and like I said, just try to get better every day.”

Ball suffered the left ankle sprain that the Lakers called mild during Monday’s preseason game at Staples Center. He missed Wednesday’s game in Ontario, the closest Lakers game of the season to his hometown of Chino Hills.

As practice closed on Friday, Ball was sitting on the side of the practice court with his foot elevated as he received treatment for the injury.

“We would love to have him out there obviously,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. “But … if he is not ready to go then he won’t play.”

Lakers forward Brandon Ingram took on some of the point guard duties in Ball’s absence. Ingram, who missed Wednesday’s game with a head contusion, is probable for Sunday.

Lakers center Andrew Bogut is questionable with a groin injury.

New analytics boss

The Lakers hired Jason Rosenfeld, previously with the NBA, as their director of basketball analytics.

Rosenfeld helped develop new statistics to track player production while working in the league office.

Rosenfeld has also been the Charlotte Hornets director of basketball analytics and he worked in the front office of the Shanghai Sharks, owned by Yao Ming, from 2009 to 2010.

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli