By: Dennis Rogers
It’s a four-hour drive from Los Angeles, 42 minutes by air. 270 total miles separates Los Angeles to Las Vegas, the training camp home of the Los Angeles Clippers. An NBA team has never had training camp in Vegas until now and from the sound of it, the Clippers may have found themselves a permanent training camp home.
“I am a big believer in getting away for training camp,” Head Coach Doc Rivers said when asked about Las Vegas. “We play a preseason game here every year, it’s a great market for us being so close to LA and it has state of the art facilities.”
Training Camp Coverage
The Clippers have played a preseason game in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay each of the past two seasons and will again this month on the 18th. Mandalay Bay is a major sponsor for the team and serves as the official team hotel during training camp.
“For us, playing a preseason game here every year coupled with the fact that this is a great market is a perfect fit for us,” Rivers said. “It makes sense to be here for training camp each season and end camp with our preseason game. That is what we hope to do in the future.”
The Clippers began training camp Tuesday morning at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center, a state-of-the-art 38.000 square foot facility featuring two full-court basketball courts.
“I am very familiar with this facility, we train here for USA Basketball,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. “It is a great facility and has everything we need for a great training camp.”
Las Vegas is no stranger to hosting NBA events. Each summer, the NBA Summer League featuring 24 NBA teams is held at UNLV to record crowds. This past July, the NBA held department meetings for each team in Las Vegas. And each summer, both Los Angeles NBA teams hold preseason games here. All Clippers games broadcast on PRIME TICKET and FOX Sports West can also be seen by Las Vegas residents.
“We understand why we are here, this is a business trip for us,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said when asked about Las Vegas distractions. “Las Vegas offers you many things, we are here to get better and build as a team. This is a business trip and we will enjoy some nice restaurants here as a team.”
Although Las Vegas can offer many distractions and numerous things to do, Rivers isn’t shying away from some of the things that make Vegas such an attractive destination to visitors.
“The guys don’t have any curfews or restrictions, everyone understands our goal and the business ahead for us,” Rivers said. “They are smart and know it is a business trip, but we will enjoy some of what makes Vegas great. As a team, we are enjoying the great restaurants each night and we are going to take in a show Friday night. It’s a great place to grow as a team.”
The Clippers will end training camp at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center on Saturday, then head back to LA to begin preseason action on Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors at STAPLES Center. The team will return to Las Vegas on October 18th to host the Denver Nuggets at Mandalay Bay.