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Sekeres: Raptors hit Bel Air Add to ...

Michael Grange writes: I'm sure you've all got your Clippers-Raptors party hats on by now. Tip-off is only, what, 10 hours away!

In my on-going to efforts to remain on speaking terms with the fam, I've opted for ice and snow rather than a trip to Los Angeles (though I am going to Phoenix -- duty calls and all that).

Fortunately the Globe has retained Matthew Sekeres to work in our Vancouver bureau and Matt knows his way around a basketball arena and was eager to get some sun after his umbrella broke from overuse in the Van City.

The Matt man makes his From Deep debut, so be kind, generous and all that good stuff. I'll watch the game tonight like a regular guy and offer some observations in the a.m.


By Matthew Sekeres

LOS ANGELES -- They say it nevers rains in Southern California but that isn't the case today, nor was it the case last night, and nor will it be the case tomorrow, according to the forecast. Just my luck, pinch-hit for Michael Grange on the Raptors beat this week and get weather that could hold up in Vancouver, or Portland, or Seattle. The SoCal locals are wearing tuques and gloves.

Anyways, the Raptors were supposed to hold shoot-around this morning at a private, Bel-Air residence (and, no, Will Smith and Uncle Phil do not live there). The schedule was rearranged and they're now at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, which I'm sure is lovely but doesn't quite have the cachet of Steven Jackson's home-court.

Jackson is a rich guy and Lakers season-ticket holder. He is the chairman of L.A. Gear Inc. and president of ACI International, both footwear companies, and has built a replica of the Staples Center in his home complete with championship banners and a piece of the floor from the old Forum in Inglewood, where Magic Johnson and the showtime Lakers entertained L.A.'s elite.

The Raptors practised at Jackson's on Monday. NBA teams often work out there, NBA players use it as an off-season pick-up court, and L.A.-based agent Arn Tellem uses it as a work-out centre for clients. Jackson's house, in a high-security gated community, also has a bowling alley, tennis court and games room.

So, placed a call to Jackson's office to talk about his personal fantasyland. His receptionist kindly called back and noted that not only is Mr. Jackson already out of town for the holidays, but he also does not do interviews.

Perhaps that should change. After all, when was the last time you heard of L.A. Gear?  

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