Viewers of Netflix’s ‘Last Chance U: Basketball’ were dealt a Los Angeles Clippers-based surprise recently, as coach Tyronn Lue and owner Steve Ballmer made an appearance in episode six of its second series.
For those not familiar with the principle of the documentary, it focuses on basketball players at East Los Angeles Junior College who have suffered setbacks both in their personal and sporting lives, as they try to turn things around and earn themselves college scholarships.
After the success of the first season, coach John Mosley has come to represent an inspirational and respected figure at that level, yet he was still left completely humbled by the appearances of Lue and Ballmer at one of his team’s games. The Clippers head coach also delivered an inspirational team talk to the players and shared a few jokes at his own expense in the locker room, before insisting he’d be more than happy to accommodate them at games.
It was a warming scene and showed just how highly these guys at the top of their game are regarded, which seems obvious but it warrants saying as the continuous negativity that surrounds social media can fool us into thinking they’re either “bums” or “washed” with no in between.
It also addresses a problem that continues to rear its head within the wider sports world. Money has, of course, long been the motivator, but as the gravy train steams ahead off the rails, it’s the fans that often get left behind as ticket prices continue to swell and accessibility suffers in return – particularly for those in working-class communities.
Since Ballmer took ownership in Los Angeles, the Clippers have made a more conscious effort to embed itself in the community. It’s a move which not only affords opportunities to those who are less fortunate, but also hopefully inspires the younger generation to use basketball as a platform for positive change in the lives of themselves and others. Our franchise being at the heart of that will also hopefully create new generations of fans.
Going to visit a junior college basketball team that already have the support of Netflix may not seem like a huge deal on the surface, but coach Lue’s talk with those young guys can hopefully have that same positive impact on themselves and the community that surrounds them. The fact that he came across as such a likable and self-aware character reinforces the idea that he’s the right man to represent our organization.
It’s no secret to those that know of Ty that his own upbringing was far from an easy one, as he admitted within ‘Last Chance U’. In fact, he and Ballmer recently visited his hometown of Mexico, Missouri, where the Clippers owner has pledged to help inject some hope into a struggling community – another positive first step that can hopefully go a long way for so many in the future.
Hopefully the franchise continues to be a force for good in Los Angeles and beyond, because that’s a cause that all of us can unite behind.