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#pounditFriday, January 22, 2021

Lakers players holding secret group workouts at Staples Center replica?

LeBron James

This might be the wildest rumor to come out of the suspended NBA season.

It’s no secret that LeBron James has been working hard despite the lack of games and staying in shape to be ready when the season resumes. But it may even go beyond that, as some well-connected figures have heard that the Lakers are secretly doing team workouts at a rather secure location.

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick have both heard that James and the Lakers are holding secret scrimmages in the Los Angeles area. Simmons and Redick discussed the rumor on Thursday’s “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” with Simmons saying that he had heard chatter about the Lakers working out at “some rich guy’s house.” Redick added that he assumed that if those workouts were happening, they were likely happening at a mansion in Bel Air.

“In regards to the Lakers, I’ve heard similar things,” Redick said. “Obviously, nothing’s been posted on social media supplying us with the evidence we need. But there is a gentleman, I think his house is in Bel Air, who has a Staples Center replica in his backyard. It’s a full court, locker room, weight room, steam shower, whatever you want. I’ve worked out there before. My assumption is those guys are working out there.”

Remember, this is only a rumor. There’s absolutely no firm evidence anywhere that it’s happening, and all we have is some hearsay from two fairly well-connected figures in Simmons and Redick. It would also be illegal if these are group workouts — the NBA has prohibited those at the moment, whether they’re at team facilities or a private facility. We’ve heard that James is working out with one or two teammates at a private facility, so perhaps this is that facility.

The home in question is owned by sneaker mogul Steven Jackson, the chairman of retro shoe brand L.A. Gear. The replica court is obsessively detailed, and even includes imitation Lakers championship banners. Various NBA teams have worked out there over the years. The Miami Heat did so in 2011 in preparation for a game against the Clippers, when James was a member of the team. Sadly, pictures of the place are almost impossible to come by, but it’s pretty clear that teams and players have been working out there — and raving about it — for many, many years. If the Lakers do have access to it right now, they’re clearly in good hands.

We do know one thing for sure: wherever it’s happening, LeBron is definitely playing regularly.

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