Los Angeles Clippers big man Patrick Patterson was recently a guest on The HoopsHype Podcast. Listen to the interview above or read the transcribed conversation below.
What was your reaction when the NBA announced that they were suspending the season after Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus?
Patrick Patterson: Initially, it was disbelief. There was also a little bit of anger just because, being an athlete playing in the NBA, you want to compete. You want to play the game that you love and you want to be out there as much as possible, so there was a little bit of anger and a lot of disbelief, a lot of questions. “Why?” “How?” Obviously, “What’s next?” It took me a while actually to get around to, “Okay, are those guys alright? Is anyone else infected with the virus? What’s the next move for them? Are they going to be stuck there, quarantined, or do they get to fly back? What about their families?” It took me a while to get around to the virus itself and the players and individuals and families and fans that were around them and have been around them. But initially, man, I would say – just like a lot of people – it was just a whole bunch of disbelief and questions and a little bit of anger.
With the NBA lifestyle, you’re traveling so much and interacting with many different people. Were you concerned that you could be at risk?
PP: Yeah, definitely, especially when we were playing for a while and the virus was talked about and, all of a sudden, the NBA puts out a statement saying that players can no longer really interact with the fans on a personal level – no slapping hands or grabbing markers to autograph items. They said, “Maybe just fist-bump.” So, there was a little bit of worry during that time period as far as, “Okay, maybe a fan could actually have it and then you could contract it if you tried to take a picture with them or put your arm around them or if they handed you an item to sign.” They could’ve handed you a marker with a card or a piece of paper or a shirt, and a lot of guys high-five fans before and after the game, so there was a little bit of concern going on.
Then, with your teammates, you’re with them every single day, hours upon hours. They’re around their families and you don’t know where they go; they hang out with different people, so there was always that chance of them getting it and handing it over to you. I think the big thing was once it came out that there are people who are asymptomatic and can get the virus and not experience any symptoms whatsoever and feel completely healthy but they technically still have it in them and the ability to spread it, I think the worries just went through the roof after that.
Because the season may resume at some point soon, players are being told to stay in shape from home. Unless you have an in-home court or gym, you’re sort of limited in what you can do (and most players don’t have either of those). What have you been doing to work out at home?
PP: It’s been a challenge. During the offseason, guys have the ability to go to different gyms to work out with their trainers and play pick-up basketball with other athletes. And, on top of that, you have your strength-and-conditioning coach that you’re with all the time in the facility. You have your circle around you that you trust and know that you can work out with whenever you want. Now, for me, I live in an apartment, so it’s difficult to set up situations where I can get all of that. Thankfully, the team sent out a few items that can help me with my workouts and I moved all of my cars out of the garage and I’ll do an hour workout in the garage with all of the items that I have. I mix in runs in certain areas in L.A. that have hills. I’ll mix in yoga sessions in the garage; I go on YouTube and type in yoga and then do a yoga session. That’s really all I can do right now. Some people I know have a gym and an actual basketball court in their home, but I don’t have that. I actually thought about hitting up Lou [Williams], Kawhi [Leonard] or Paul [George] and being like, “Hey, can I borrow your court for a little bit?” or, “Can I borrow your gym just to get a workout in?” For a lot of those guys in the upper echelon who have the large homes with a court and a large gym in them, it’s easier for them to stay in shape just because they have all the equipment. But, for me, it’s just trying to get things that can help me stay in shape and stay ready for whenever we do get that call to come back.
Since most players don’t have access to a court or gym, players could be at a higher risk for injuries if this stoppage goes on for a while and then the NBA tries to resume the season quickly. An NBA strength-and-conditioning coach recently told me that he’s concerned about players getting injured when they return. Do you agree that’s a concern?
PP: Yeah, that’s definitely on my mind. I could’ve sworn I heard something on ESPN or the radio – I can’t remember – but someone said that these playoffs are going to be the best playoffs that have ever happened in the NBA, like, “You give these guys two or three months to rest their bodies and heal up and then unleash them back on the court, it’s gonna be amazing!” I’m like, “No.” Right now, with the virus and everything going on, certain guys have courts and have better opportunities to stay fit, stay in shape and fix their bodies. But for everyone else, you can’t really go work out, you can’t go to the gym, you can’t go to certain facilities to do what you do. And some guys may fall into that mindset or routine, like, “Okay, tomorrow I’m gonna workout.” Then, it’s, “The next day, I’m gonna workout.” Or, “I’m just gonna do a little bit now and then I’ll do more tomorrow,” but then you don’t do anything tomorrow.
There’s a lot more free time, there’s a lot more ability to not work out, to not train, to not do what you do every single year to make sure your body is strong and healthy. And, during this time, there could be a number of guys who are just being lazy, who are just sleeping in and playing video games, who are not working out so they’re putting on pounds, losing muscle and strength and mobility and durability in their muscles and bones and joints. And then, next thing you know, the season starts back up again and they give us a couple weeks before we go to [finish the] regular season or we go straight to the playoffs, and guys’ bodies aren’t nearly the same as they were before the stoppage began. So, there is concern. I do have concern for myself and other guys across the league who may not take this break seriously and try to rest a little too much or who don’t have the equipment and everything that they need to get stronger, stay ready and stay prepared.
For sure. You mentioned that the Clippers sent you some equipment to help you work out at home. I know some teams have sent treadmills or exercise bikes or weights to players. Some teams are sending different workouts to the players as well. What exactly did the Clippers send you?
PP: Yeah, so everything is different for different teams. Some teams have sent out treadmills, like you said. I’ve heard of teams sending ladders and I’ve heard of teams sending ellipticals. I’ve heard a number of things that certain guys across the league have gotten from their team and their own strength coach. For me, personally, I’ve received ladders, weights, resistance bands, medicine balls, BOSU balls, benches, boxes, jump-ropes… I have pretty much everything that I need – of course, minus a treadmill. But I basically have everything that I need.
As far as what we do as a team, I want to say three-to-four times a week, our strength coach puts us all in a Zoom session and every morning around, like, 10 a.m. there will be some type of hour-long workout. We all just sign in on the Zoom session and our trainer is right there, leading a workout for an hour. That’s what we do. I’m not sure what everyone else does, but I feel like there’s some type of set-up across the league that allows guys to at least get in an hour-long workout with equipment that has been sent from the team and with either their strength coach or a yoga instructor – if they have a yoga instructor on the team. I know guys who are doing yoga sessions to keep their body mobile and their joints good and their muscles loose. The Clippers have done a great job, a solid job, getting us the equipment that we need to set up in our homes so we can stay in shape and stay ready to the best of our abilities.
Hopefully, this virus will get contained soon and things can start returning to normal. The NBA is obviously hoping to resume the season and crown a 2020 champion. What are the Clippers telling you guys when it comes to the possibility of the season resuming?
PP: Everyone from the Players’ Union to the coaching staff to the people within the Clippers organization seem to be confident that the season will continue at some point this year. Whether that’s in the summer or whether that’s in August, at some point the season will begin and they will finish it. How the season will finish off and play out is a big question – whether you get a little bit of training camp and regular season and then playoffs, or a little bit of training camp and you go straight to the playoffs [remains to be seen]. The playoffs could be the best-of-three or the best-of-five or whatever it may be; it could be shorter. No one really knows. But the number one thing right now that I seem to be getting from everyone is that the season will commence at some point, just no one really knows when. Things seem to be changing, of course, with the virus and the virus’ ability to affect others and the population. People [are still] getting sick right now, so no one knows when it’s going to begin. But I think the important thing for us in the NBA, as far as our job goes, is that it will commence at some point.
What does a typical day look like for you right now?
PP: Man, I wake up usually around 10 a.m. and have some breakfast. I do a little hour or hour-and-a-half workout, whether that’s strength-and-conditioning or going on a run or yoga; I mix it up every other day. I have lunch, then I’m writing, reading, playing video games or watching TV shows or movies on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, whatever it may be. Then, I have dinner and then I do the same thing until I fall asleep with video games and TV. And then, literally, the same thing the next day. Every day is basically the exact same right now. I’m trying to stay home as much as possible, so the only time I really leave the house is to grab groceries (and I’m careful with that whole process) or to go for some type of run somewhere in my neighborhood.
What shows have you been watching? I know everyone is talking about “Tiger King,” so I watched that. I finally saw “Billions” too.
PP: Man, the amount of shows that I have watched during this time is incredible. Of course, “Ozark.” I think everyone was waiting on that to finally drop, so I watched that. “Tiger King.” I found a show called “Kingdom.” “Altered Carbon.” “The Stranger,” which I finished last night. “On My Block.” “The Sinner.” I even watched “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” That’s what the quarantine is doing to me right now (laughs). There’s so much stuff that I’ve watched. One of my friends told me to watch “Righteous Gemstones,” which is on HBO NOW. There was another one on HBO, “The Outsider,” which I watched. I’m literally flying through shows, it’s incredible.
I’ve been so impressed with the NBA players who are donating to nonprofits impacted by COVID-19, paying the arena employees who are out of work and so on. In some cases, the players have stepped up way more than the billionaire owners. How proud are you to see the NBA community making a difference?
PP: Oh, I’m very proud of my NBA brotherhood stepping up and helping out those who are less fortunate, [helping] the workers, having meals sent out to families that need food, being a part of food drives and donating to people who are in a position to get food to people. I think the guys in the NBA are doing a great job. A little bit goes a long way. It doesn’t matter how much you donate, but if you do, trust me, it goes a long way. I’m very proud of those guys. My wife got us to help and donate to animal shelters where, obviously, a lot of pets and animals are hanging out and don’t have the ability to have a roof over their heads and a meal every single day and, with the virus, there can’t be a lot of workers and people around them so we wanted to help out L.A. dog shelters and donate to them to help out the animals and hopefully get animals into homes. People are home right now and can’t do anything and you’re alone and bored. What better thing to cheer you up right now and occupy your time than a dog? So my wife and I helped out with that. Shout out to guys in the NBA, NFL NHL or WNBA [who stepped up] and anyone who isn’t an athlete who helped out the people in their neighborhood and their district. I just think it’s big that we all come together and help out each other in some type of way.
Also, the NBA donated $50 million and they made a huge impact when they decided to suspend the season. I think that caused many other sports leagues and businesses to shut down, which probably saved lives.
PP: I agree. The NBA stepping up and doing something like that most likely had a positive effect on the outcome of this situation. If they didn’t do anything and waited another couple of days or even a week, who knows where we would be right now?
As viewers, we’re all missing basketball because we want a distraction now more than ever. But, as a player, you’ve played basketball just about every day since you were very young. How much are you missing basketball and five-on-five right about now?
PP: Oh, I’m missing it so much, like crazy. I’m talking to a couple of guys who retired and obviously it’s not the same level – it’s a different feeling – but I’ve just been talking to guys who retired and are no longer playing the game that they love and just trying to get feedback and advice. Once they retired and they knew they weren’t playing anymore, what was their mindset? What did they do? What were their next moves? How did they wake up every single day to do something [else]? I’m just trying to apply what [they’ve told me] in the conversations that I’ve had with them because although basketball will resume at some point, people always talk about life after basketball. I think right now is a big opportunity for guys across the league to, of course, stay in shape and stay focused, but also to look at different aspects of life like, “Okay, if this was the end of my basketball career, what would I do?” Would you still be working out as much? Do you think you’d have a plan in order to generate income or keep yourself busy and take care of your family? For me, it sucks and I want to play. I love basketball and I’ve played my whole life. But, right now, I’m thinking about life after basketball too. What can I do to make myself more comfortable with that day when it finally comes? So, that’s just the whole mindset that I’m trying to put myself in right now, just trying to stay away from, “Man, I can’t play the game I love…” [Instead], I’m getting in the mindset of, “Alright, what can I do now to solidify myself later on down the road – whenever that day comes?”
That’s really smart. I feel like the players who struggle in retirement are the ones who never thought about life after basketball and then they’re suddenly thrown into it. Planning ahead is so important and a number of retired players have given that advice on this podcast, so I love that you’re doing that. What do you want to do after basketball? Hopefully that’s not for a while, but do you know what you’d want to do next?
PP: Yeah, hopefully that’s not for at least another five years. But yeah, for me, I love movies – I’m huge on movies – so me and a good friend of mine that I’ve known for quite some time plan on starting our own production company and creating and producing our own films and TV shows. Our ultimate dream and ultimate goal is to get [a film] into South by Southwest, TIFF or the Sundance Film Festival and maybe a huge company picks it up or maybe it goes to a theater or at least gets to Hulu or Netflix or some type of streaming network. That’s the ultimate goal. That’s the ultimate dream. The past couple of years, I’m just trying to piece by piece put that together. And now, like I said, during this whole situation, I feel like this is as great an opportunity as any to actually put the hard hat on and focus a lot more on that.
Speaking of movies, you do a thing called Lockdown Movie Night where you watch a movie on Netflix with your Instagram followers and do a Q&A while everyone watches the film. How did that come together?
PP: I used to do this thing during the year called Pat Presents and get a movie before it was released in theaters and pick 100-to-200 fans and all of us would just get together in a movie theater and sit down, have some snacks and watch the movie. Then, I’d take pictures, sign autographs and talk to them afterward. I used to do that, like, once a month. Since this situation has happened and I can no longer do that, now we’ll watch a movie via Netflix – all 50 of us at the same time. We all jump in a chat room, talk back and forth about the movie, what everyone’s been up to, our families and they can ask me questions about the season and just whatever comes to mind. Then, once the movie is over, we hold a quick Q&A – about three-to-five questions – and whoever gets the questions, right, I’ll send them a little care package with some Clippers stuff, some autographed stuff and some memorabilia. I’ll send it their way. It’s something that I started doing last week. I’ve had two and the third one will be tonight (4/10). I hold it on my Instagram (@pdpatt) and anyone who wants to be a part of it can just comment under the post and I just randomly pick the fans and send them a quick DM with the link and then we all just hang out and watch a movie on Netflix.
That’s awesome. What’s your favorite movie of all-time?
PP: For me, it’s tough, so I usually do it by genre. My favorite drama of all-time is “Gladiator.” My favorite horror movie of all-time is the original “Nightmare on Elm Street.” My favorite comedy is a toss-up between “Superbad” and “Step Brothers.” My favorite thriller would be “Se7en” with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. Action is the toughest one because there’s like crazy good action movies every single year, from Marvel to even one of the Fast and Furious movies (I think it was 5 or 6, I can’t remember which one it was). There are just so many great action movies that come out every year, it’s hard for me to pick one. For sci-fi, either the original “Alien” movie or the original “Blade Runner” or “The Matrix,” which is solid as well. I have to do it by genre since I’m a huge movie fan, a huge movie buff, so it’s hard for me to only pick one.
Let’s talk about the season a bit. Your Clippers were 44-20 and one of the top teams in the NBA before the season was suspended. Is it even more frustrating that this happened during a season when you are potentially so close to competing for a championship?
PP: Oh, yeah. I haven’t been in this type of situation as far as my chances to win a championship since one of my years in Toronto, so it’s tough, especially like right now since we just acquired Marcus Morris and were working him into the system. Everyone was getting more comfortable with each other on the court – Joakim Noah, Reggie Jackson. We were just getting all these new additions to the team and starting to gel and figuring each other out and figuring out what we need to be and what we need to do and starting to gain some momentum and then next thing you know, at the snap of a finger, and we’re where we are now. Then, it’s like, “Okay, back to the drawing board again once this whole ordeal ends.” But being in one of the best situations I’ve had in my life as far as chances to make it to the Finals and having great guys on my team that I genuinely enjoy being around every single day – from Lou [Williams] to Pat [Beverley] to ‘Trez [Harrell] to JaMychal [Green] to Paul [George] to Kawhi [Leonard] and the list goes on and on, all of those guys are such fun, great guys to be around – having to take a step back from all that right now sucks. It definitely sucks, which is why I’m eagerly waiting for it to all start back up again.
The Clippers entered this season with a lot of new players – and two new focal points in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – and then continued adding more players throughout the year. Was it tough to get everyone on the same page and develop chemistry?
PP: Yeah, we went a long time without having a full roster, a healthy roster, where every single individual suited up for the game. We’ve had guys in and out; we’ve had games without Kawhi, we had a whole bunch of games without Paul to start the season, Pat went down, Lou had something, ‘Trez had something, Sham (Landry Shamet) had something… It just felt like there wasn’t really one game where we were fully healthy or we at least had everyone suited up and available to play. We had guys in and out lineups, which I think is a good thing, ultimately, in the long run just because we’ve had opportunities and chances to play with different lineups and different people out there on the court, so different guys have been in game-time situations [together]. As the season progressed and guys started getting healthy and getting back out there on the court and we were acquiring guys here and there steadily throughout the season – just great additions to the team – everyone was just having a good time with each other, having fun out there on the court and just joking in the locker room. It was a good process. It was a roller coaster, up and down, losing some games that we should’ve won, having situations with guys getting hurt that you don’t want to get hurt and you wanted them out there as fast as possible, but I think, ultimately, at the end, we all came together and we were all on the same page and focused and ready to make a solid push toward the championship.
How much communication have you had with your teammates at this time?
PP: We talk every day. There’s always at least someone talking in the group chat, so we’re all connected via our iMessage and there seems to be communication with at least two people every single day. Someone will send a meme. Someone will send some type of update with the COVID-19 crisis going on in the world. Of course, right now, there’s that Players Only NBA 2K challenge going on. ‘Trez is playing and Pat played the other day, so [we’re discussing that]. There’s constant communication going on with us. Even though we can’t be around each other, guys are still talking and checking up on each other’s families and making sure everyone’s working out and staying ready.
What’s it like playing with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and does that duo make life easier for everyone around them?
PP: Yeah, it makes everything easy. I’m very blessed to have Paul, and Kawhi as teammates. They’re great guys, great family men. They care about the team. They care about winning and they always care about doing the right thing. For me, it makes my job easier and definitely more fun, being out there on the court playing alongside them. And then, of course, you throw in Lou Williams, who’s arguably one of the best sixth men to ever play the game – I have him and Jamal Crawford [as the best] – and then ‘Trez and his ability to score at will and just be dominant out there on the court and all those guys, it makes stepping out there on the court and my job a lot easier and more fun.
The Clippers and Lakers were widely regarded as the two best teams in the Western Conference and both were being picked as possible champions. What’s it been like to experience that Clippers-Lakers rivalry firsthand?
PP: It’s nothing but pure entertainment seeing the fans and the people all throughout the city of L.A. Right now, everyone knows L.A. is a Lakers town, it’s Laker city. We’re hoping we can change that, obviously, with the championship this year. But this is pure entertainment, man. The fans make it enjoyable with the bickering back and forth and the banter and just the energy. Whenever you step on the court against the Lakers, whether they’re the home team or we’re the home team, you just know that it’s going to be a tough, hard-fought game with a lot of passion behind each and every play. So, it’s just entertainment. It’s just pure joy and pure entertainment.
Basketball, Interview, NBA, Podcast, Interview, Podcast, Top, Joakim Noah, Kawhi Leonard, Landry Shamet, Lou Williams, Marcus Morris, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Patterson, Paul George, Reggie Jackson, Los Angeles Clippers