The prevailing assumption as the NBA's return date approaches is that the actual basketball will probably be ugly to start. Players without a basket or some kind of court in their home (A.K.A the vast majority of them) went months without getting shots up. While it seems unlikely anyone will be walking into Orlando without having touched a basketball since March, everyone will be rusty. The equalizing factor is that all players on all teams will be starting on more or less equal footing on that regard. Right?
Well, maybe not. Bill Simmons and J.J. Redick discussed a rumor they've been hearing about how the Los Angeles Lakers have secretly been practicing at "some rich guy's" house in Los Angeles. Neither can confirm the rumor is true, but if noted Los Angeles resident Simmons and former Los Angeles Clipper/current New Orleans Pelican Redick have heard it, there's probably some validity. Redick gave some more specifics, saying he heard that this rich guy has a full Staples Center court replica in his backyard.
This begs the obvious question: who is this guy, other than being so rich he can build a replica of the freaking Staples Center court in his backyard? There are a lot of options. Consider: there are quite a few very, very rich people who live in the Bel-Air neighborhood. The Lakers are the go-to basketball team for many of those very, very rich people. The means and motives are there for many a rich dude.
However! I believe I have identified the man who is doing LeBron James and his teammates this big favor. In a Sun-Sentinel article written in 2011, the Miami Heat were visiting Los Angeles on a road trip and didn't want to hike all the way to downtown LA to practice. Instead, they went to the home of one Steve Jackson, Bel-Air resident, who (wait for it)... had a replica Staples Center in his backyard:
"Finding a practice spot closer to their team hotel that did not involve the trip downtown, the Heat practiced at the Bel Air home of sneaker mogul Steve Jackson, chairman of L.A. Gear. There, the Heat worked on a regulation court painted in Los Angeles Lakers colors, with a Lakers logo at center court, a near perfect replica of the court where Jackson holds eight courtside seats. The estate also features a bowling alley, a tennis court, game room and a movie theater, with the Heat also taking in a video session during the visit to the gated community at the top of Moraga Drive."
There isn't a lot of info to be found on Jackson. There was a TrueHoops blog written on ESPN in 2007 mentioning the court and that players regularly use it to work out. Steve Blake got into a verbal confrontation with Jackson's son in 2012 and apologized almost immediately because of Jackson's legend within the Lakers community. Jackson's company, LA Gear, is described as "an American lifestyle brand based in Los Angeles, California offering retro inspired and new school shoes and apparel" on its website.
Otherwise, there's almost nothing to be found about who Jackson is or how much influence he has. But, given the evidence, I think we have our man.