Clippers players, coaches participate in food drive

INGLEWOOD — The Clippers just suffered two worrisome losses in a row, both of them symptomatic of a severe offensive deficiency, both of them revealing in terms of how thin their safety net is with so little depth available.

So how about a dose of perspective?

The Clippers didn’t practice Saturday, but Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann and Luke Kennard — as well as assistant coaches Shaun Fein and Jay Larranaga — got together to participate in a drive-through food drive for as many as 1,000 families in the parking outside of the Forum.

“This is still an issue,” said Michael Flood, the CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which has been staging hundreds of food drives like Saturday’s, which also was supported by the L.A. Clippers Foundation and Planet Fitness.

“The economy has improved some, but we’re still hovering at just under 10% unemployment in L.A. County; we have, of course, a high cost of living. We had challenges going into the pandemic and the pandemic has made it even more difficult. A lot of families, they’re trying to meet their basic needs so rent, transportation and other things and food often gets cut out of the budget.”

The Clippers got a reminder when they helped distribute packages of grapes, chicken and pasta, as well as cans of beans, rice and fruit — while also chatting with those Angelenos in their cars.

“We’re so so blessed and kind of spoiled by the NBA lifestyle and any little reminder of who fortunate we are,” Larranaga said. “Sometimes you can get caught up in the fantasy world of the NBA, private planes and five-star hotels and people cheering for you and begging for your autograph and free clothes and free shoes. And that’s not reality. So this is a reminder of how lucky we are.”

It also was a reminder of what life used to be like before the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first Clippers’ community event for both coaches and Kennard and Jackson, and they marveled at how uplifting it felt to be around people again in such a capacity.

“Just trying to spread joy,” said Jackson, who talked hoops and math class with some of the youngsters who pulled through his lane in the back seats of their families’ cars. “Especially after these two years, going through the pandemic, getting back and interacting … human interaction is the best thing. Just getting out there and feeling somebody else’s presence and be blessed to be able to give back is the best thing ever.”

That’s true in spite Friday night’s 111-92 loss in Portland — or maybe, actually, because of it.

“For us, it puts a smile on our face, it’s something we enjoy doing,” Kennard said. “Even after a tough loss, it’s something that kind of gets our spirits up a little bit and gets us together and it’s just something we enjoy doing.”

And it wasn’t free of competition, either, with the strategic loading of car trunks inspiring debate about who among the Clippers’ trio is the best Tetris player. Also, Jackson was willing to bet he and his teammates outdid their coaches in one regard.

“We out here competing!” Jackson said. “Even though we’re all out here giving out the same thing, we’re trying to better maître d’s then they are. So, we’re gonna give back, we’re definitely gonna give back … but we’re gonna have to watch film on it and see how we can improve too.”

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