Twice now, disaster hitting two of America’s biggest cities touched Corey Brewer’s life.
In August, when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and caused historic flooding and nearly $200 billion in damage, the water crept up to the edge of Brewer’s home before it receded. On Wednesday, when wildfires ripped through Los Angeles, only the smoke and ash reached Brewer’s Tarzana home.
Both times, he left the experience feeling like one of the lucky ones.
“It’s crazy right now,” Brewer said. “All you can do is pray for the people in L.A. Pray for the people in the mountains all over there. It was bad. They said it’s getting even worse. They said the wind’s getting crazy right now.”
The Lakers flew to Philadelphia on Wednesday and as their plane flew away from Los Angeles, it left behind a thick layer of smoke from what was then five raging fires fueled by people’s homes and spread by the Santa Ana winds. Most of the Lakers live in parts of the city that were not impacted.
Two exceptions were their veterans, Brewer and Brook Lopez
Lopez lives close to the Getty Center, and his neighborhood was evacuated.
Brewer’s neighborhood is safe from fires at the moment, but on Wednesday morning he got a phone call at 5:30 about the fires. An Uber driver he regularly uses for trips to the airport had just driven on the 405 Freeway where a mountain of flames menaced commuters as they passed. The freeway had not yet been closed but he knew it would take longer than the normal hour-long commute to get Brewer to the Lakers’ plane on time.
“You could see the flames and then we got off [the freeway],” Brewer said. “I don’t know how we got to the airport. He went some crazy direction. We were like, I went all through L.A. probably. If it wasn’t for him I would’ve been late. I probably wouldn’t have made it to the plane.”
LaVar puts on a show
With the Lakers leading 95-89, the Philadelphia 76ers crowd suddenly began booing and making obscene gestures.
Not at the court. They were looking up toward a suite that held point guard Lonzo Ball’s father, LaVar Ball.
Always the showman, LaVar encouraged their boos. He cupped his hand to his ear as if he couldn’t hear them. His son didn’t notice but some of this teammates did.
“Brew told me he was going crazy up there,” Lonzo said.
What was LaVar doing? Helping, he said. The boos Lonzo heard every time he touched the ball had subsided and he thought they would be useful for the Lakers.
“Lonzo loves to be booed,” LaVar said. “When you go into somebody else’s house and jump on their couch and leave, it feels good. It is just how it is. But hey, everybody got to be friendly now. The game is over. Let’s go get some Philly cheesesteaks.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli