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Clippers Forward Patrick Patterson Thinks Making Movies Has Replaced Wine As The NBA’s Newest Obsession

When Patrick Patterson decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers this offseason, he, like many Angeleno transplants, had more than basketball in mind. The 31-year-old NBA journeyman was trying to plant the seeds of what might become his second act, turning a production company from a far-off dream to reality. Now, with the NBA season on pause amidst an epic Clipper season, Patterson finds himself unable to leave his home in the heart of the entertainment business.

Though Patterson can’t take the types of meetings with Hollywood power brokers right now that he might typically, he’s using the prolonged shutdown of the NBA to put more time into writing his next chapter. That doesn’t just mean Zoom calls and diary-keeping — Patterson is bringing fans into the experience, taking the movie screenings he has become known for among local fans to the internet.

Through Netflix’s virtual screening room, Netflix Party, Patterson has hosted two events, with the third coming on Friday at 9 p.m. ET. To choose the film, Patterson logs into Netflix and scrolls through the pages for his favorite genres — thriller and suspense — until he finds a few films with good reviews and a recognizable cast. Then, he lets fans vote to determine the final selection.

Throughout the movie, Patterson interacts with fans about the movie and life as a basketball player.

“I’ll keep them engaged and ask them questions about the movie, but then I give them free rein to ask about anything,” Patterson told me over the phone earlier this week. “People (ask) about my tenure in OKC, Toronto, talk about the season, the situation going on right now, teammates.”

These questions go far beyond basketball, too. At one point, he was asked his favorite Oreo — he’s a fan of the “OG original double stuf with vanilla” — and while those sorts of questions are silly on the surface, Patterson cherishes them.

“It’s random stuff we talk about, which is why I like the engagement factor,” he says.

The virtual film club led him to Good Time, the Safdie Brothers’ thunderous breakout starring Robert Pattinson. Though Patterson insists the selection was random — “I probably would have never watched the movie if not for the situation that we’re going through right now,” he says — the Safdies inserted themselves into the NBA conversation last fall with the release of Uncut Gems, which centered around Kevin Garnett and a gem salesman played by Adam Sandler whose reckless wagering on the 2012 NBA Playoffs led to him getting into a world of trouble.

Garnett is just one athlete venturing into Hollywood. While that list features guys like LeBron James rebooting Space Jam and starting SpringHill Entertainment, it’s not an endeavor limited to those who are able to take on projects that large. The way Patterson sees it, the entertainment industry is the latest obsession around the league.

“All these guys in the NBA have become wine connoisseurs going to Napa or wherever else and learning about wine and grapes and where they come, how to make it, how to taste it,” Patterson says. “Now, it’s athletes being more involved with movies, whether it’s acting, creating, writing or trying to start up their own companies.”

Asked who’s interested in the creative side that fans might not expect, Patterson points to teammate Paul George, who is more known for his work in the southern California community than for acting or creating. But George is just one of many who Patterson sees looking into Hollywood as an appealing business away from basketball. Athletes in movies is nothing new, but Patterson sees more high-profile hoopers looking into the creative side to tell their own stories.

“At the end of the day, all NBA guys are movie people as far as watching movies,” says Patterson. “There are X amount that want to be in front of the camera (with) their attitude, their demeanor, their likability. They can do the crossover. Then there are guys who want to create, who actually want to go into some type of film-making, writing, producing. Whether it’s movies, TV, animation, there are a handful of guys in the league who are interested in pursuing that.”

With time to dwell on the movie business, Patterson believes virtual screenings from companies like Netflix represent a pathway for theaters. With the closure of movie theaters and film festivals, transitioning to a virtual setup could allow content to make its way to audiences more quickly, especially if the pandemic jeopardizes gatherings into the fall. He imagines an AMC or Cineplex app with showtimes and virtual ticket stubs, which would allow studios to reclaim lost revenue while creating a more communal experience through social media. If everyone’s watching the same movie at once, it’s sort of the best of both worlds.

Before theaters across the country shuttered to encourage social distancing, Patterson was able to catch a showing of The Gentlemen, a pulpy action jaunt not unlike Good Time. Other 2020 favorites include the horror remake Invisible Man, as well as Bad Boys 4 Life, which Patterson says took entirely too long to put together but was still “solid.”

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The recent alone time and bingeing of new movies and TV series has served as inspiration for Patterson as he thinks about what his first projects might look like.

“(We’re) using this time to write, so every single day, writing down ideas, writing down stories, things that could be adapted into screenplays and movies or even a TV show, whatever it may be,” Patterson says. “Right now, just taking this time to focus on life after basketball, creating the business, and hopefully when everything’s good, start creating and putting that out there for the world to see.”

Of course, the NBA season is still in flux. He may have to jump back into the daily routine of the season at a moment’s notice. He sees the daily updates like everyone else, but hasn’t heard a plan that he feels checks all the right boxes. In particular, he’s not on board with the idea of being separated from his loved ones in any kind of bubble league.

“It doesn’t have to be an individual athlete’s wife, kids, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents,” Patterson explains. “It doesn’t have to be that drastic, it could just be you get four tickets and that’s it, but I definitely would not want to play without the important people in my life in that arena, which is my wife and my parents, and her parents as well.”

With safety far from guaranteed right now, thinking about basketball seems strange. Trapped in a haven of creativity with nothing to do but watch and think, Patterson’s mind has opened to the possibilities of the future and the limitations of our current reality. The future seems clearer now, but the present is as cloudy as ever.

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