At the center of the Lakers’ new training facility lies the team’s practice court. And when CEO Jeanie Buss listens to players dribbling basketballs, she hears the heartbeat of the UCLA Health Training Center.
Buss is thrilled with the way the Lakers’ new facility came together — from the way that the Southern California sun shines natural light onto the court to how the architecture of the building is designed to promote collaboration.
That second part fulfills Buss’ goal to unite the basketball and business sides of the organization.
Prior to moving into the UCLA Health Training Center on Monday, these two facets of the Lakers were housed in separate buildings, with the former training at Toyota Sports Center while the latter was located a block away.
“People didn’t even know where the Lakers’ training center was, because we didn’t have a flagpole to say, ‘This is our home,’” Buss said. “We were kind of hidden in the back of the L.A. Kings’ practice facility.
“This really is about having a place where we can interact with the community. People know where we are. This is our home. This is our headquarters.”
This is also a place for the fans.
Buss is excited to have the Lakers’ local following come check out the center itself when the NBA G League season rolls around. In November, fans will be able to get a look at the state-of-the-art facility during South Bay Lakers home games.
But some of the most important parts of the center won’t be visible to spectators.
Partnering with UCLA Health, Buss anticipates that the Lakers will have an edge when it comes to research into keeping players healthy and increasing the longevity of their careers.
This is one of the facets that Buss envisions President Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka being able to pitch to future free agents.
“We’re supplying the tools, the platform — everything that they need to make the team the best that they can be,” Buss said.
As for the current team, Buss likes the idea of giving the young players — like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle — a new canvas to make their own.
“They have an opportunity to create their own way of Lakers basketball,” Buss said. “In this locker room, nobody’s going to get Kobe’s old locker. They’re going to be able to write the next chapter in Lakers history.”