Toward the end of a light practice Monday, a man on the court wearing a sleeveless black-and-white flannel shirt was taking tips on how to shoot, hoisting shots and posing for pictures with Lakers players.
It was comedian Dave Chappelle. He’d spoken to the team a few minutes earlier.
“He’s just a funny person,” Kyle Kuzma said. “I think he may have tried to be serious but he ended up just kind of being funny because that’s who he is. Just telling us what he thought about life and how to be happy.”
Coach Frank Vogel called Chappelle the greatest stand-up comedian of all time.
Chappelle’s talk with the Lakers was part of the team’s “genius series,” in which general manager Rob Pelinka brings in high achievers from various fields to speak to the team. Participants have included Tesla CEO Elon Musk, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix. Last month the Lakers brought in magician David Blaine.
Danny Green was hesitant to share exactly what Chappelle said.
“That’s kinda for him to share. I know what things I took from it,” Green said. “More so breaking down you can’t be afraid to make mistakes or be yourself, basically. And that’s the point where he’s at in his life, where he’s not really trying to filter anything, and he’s carefree and more honest with himself than anybody. And that’s where it starts.”
Celebrities and basketball players intersect often, and that’s not only the case with the Lakers. LeBron James and Anthony Davis both dabbled in the entertainment world before joining the Lakers — James in a much more serious fashion than Davis. Few teams have as big of a celebrity following as the Lakers. That’s something players and coaches new to the organization are learning.
“Definitely multiplied, magnified times 10 from anywhere else I’ve been,” Green said.
Vogel, a movie buff, got to experience that first-hand as soon as he became the Lakers’ coach. He was flying to Los Angeles for his introductory press conference and an actress he admired sat next to him.
“I sat next to Lea Thompson on the plane,” Vogel said. “From ‘Back to the Future.’ She was super sweet, we had a long conversation. She and her husband are both Lakers fans and obviously ‘Back to the Future’ is iconic. One of my favorite series of all time. It was really neat for both of us and that’s probably the best example for me of Hollywood and basketball intertwining.”
Rajon Rondo has been cleared of his minutes restriction, the Lakers said. Rondo has been working his way back from a calf strain that kept him out for 10 of the first 11 games.
The Lakers have hoped Rondo’s return will help the units they employ when James is not on the court.
“He’s gonna be our second and at times our No. 1 point guard, whatever the case may be, however coach Vogel does it,” James said. “But with him coming back and still being on a little time restriction because of the calf, it’s gonna take a little while for that lineup to get into a good groove because they haven’t had many minutes together. They haven’t had much time in practice together as well. So I think that will get better and better.”
VS. OKLAHOMA CITY
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
On Air: TV — Spectrum SportsNet; Radio — 710, 1330
Update: The Lakers will get another opponent on the second night of a back-to-back. Led by point guard Chris Paul, Oklahoma City entered Monday night’s game against the Clippers with a record of 5-7.