Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Lebron and the Lakers visit Pechanga for shootaround, youth clinic


Last updated 10/5/2018 at 2:21am

Jeff Pack

LeBron James speaks with reporters during the shootaround at Pechanga Recreation Center.

More than 100 young members of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians tribe had the opportunity to participate in a basketball clinic conducted by the Lakers Youth Foundation early morning Sunday, Oct. 1.

The participating children ran through drills and contests to win Lakers gear and prizes.

"So this is a service that we provide to organizations like the kids here on the reservation, we do this at parks and recreation centers, schools," Kiesha Nix, Executive Director of the Lakers Youth Foundation said. "So we bring basketball and health and fitness, show them how to work out properly, how to hydrate, and this is just a service that the Lakers Youth Foundation provides free of charge to all of the community organizations."

The trainers didn't just go through the motions with the children, they were actively engaged in promoting competition and skill building and all the children seemed to have a great time, according to Nix.

"The kids love it, and we try to do some of the same organizations year after year so they get to know the trainers and the trainers know them," she said. "It gives them a piece of the Lakers, and we make sure that everybody leaves with something and we promote positivity and teamwork. We just want them to learn how to play the Lakers way."

As the clinic came to an end, on the sidelines in the stands, there was a buzz amongst the families, Pechanga staff and members of the media that came to the Pechanga Recreation Center gymnasium.

That's because everyone knew that arguably one of the top players in the history of the NBA, Lebron James, was in the building after flying in to the resort casino in a helicopter for a casino night event with the Lakers the night before.

James signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers in July after a four-season stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After the clinic was completed, James and the Lakers held a walkthrough and shootaround in the Pechanga center gymnasium with about 400 tribal members in attendance.

James, head coach Luke Walton and newly signed point guard Rajon Rondo all met with the media in preparation of their preseason game against the Denver Nuggets in San Diego later that evening.

Jeff Pack

Young Lionel Marquez sits on the shoulders of his mom, Bernadette Marquez, during the Los Angeles Lakers shootaround Sunday, Sept. 30 inside the Pechanga Recreation Center.

Everyone, including Pechanga Tribal Chairman, Mark Macarro, was thrilled to watch the team practice and see their heroes in action.

"It's always special to host the Lakers at our reservation," Macarro said. "Our kids get to see firsthand their dedication to their craft and their approach to working together. With the addition of LeBron James, our kids were able to watch not just one of the most talented basketball players to ever play the game, but also someone who has given back in big ways off the court.

"The Lakers and Pechanga partnership continues to strengthen our Southern California community through philanthropic events and support."

James made his Lakers debut in a losing effort, as the Nuggets came out on top 124-107 at the Valley View Casino Center.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]


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