He was already ecstatic before he saw the free vending machine and endless row of snacks, but that candy-filled cafeteria confirmed it: DeAndre Jordan had found his coveted man cave.
With Treyarch set to release its newest project, Call of Duty Black Ops II, on Nov. 13, the developers decided to invite Jordan – a Call of Duty enthusiast – to their Santa Monica, Calif., compound to assess the futuristic gore and gunplay.
During his two-hour visit, Jordan took an in-depth look at the single-player campaign mode and got to take part in a series of six-on-six multiplayer battles, featuring yours truly. Though the gameplay left Jordan in awe, and eager to take home his free copy, he was most impressed with Treyarch’s presentation and pyrotechnics.
“This is the best man cave I’ve ever seen in my life,” Jordan told ClipperBlog.com in a one-on-one interview. “This place is amazing. I’d love to work here.”
To say Treyarch’s headquarters is an avid gamer’s dream would be an understatement.
Various sections of the complex feature eerily lifelike themes from the corporation’s games: jungles, war zones, zombies, etc. The remaining walls are filled with game artwork and memorabilia that tell stories of their own. Practically every cubicle has a gaming system in it. It’s as insane as it sounds.
Which brings us to the main gaming room, which has eight couch chairs facing a 130-inch HD television; the back of the room has 12 separate monitors and Xbox consoles split up in two rows. You can theoretically have 52 people playing in the same room at the same time.
Jordan is an ardent gamer, as are teammates Trey Thompkins and Eric Bledsoe, and often enjoys playing with them on the road in free-for-all matches. However, Jordan said his penchant for gaming is more than a hobby, even if exaggerated.
“If I didn’t play basketball, I would sit in a man cave and play Call of Duty all day, and just have people slide food under the door and never leave the room.”
Even though his teammate and best friend, Blake Griffin, shares the cover of NBA 2K13 alongside Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, Jordan isn’t into basketball video games; he’s a one-dimensional gamer, in that regard.
On the hardwood, Jordan has had his own call of duty this year. He’s been tasked with an increased offensive role and the pressure of taking the Clippers’ lackluster defense to championship levels.
The Clippers ranked 18th in defensive efficiency last year, a mark far too low for a true contender. Most of the Clippers’ defensive potential relies on Jordan’s ability to stay out of foul trouble while simultaneously protect the rim. It’s a tough and possibly unfair responsibility, but it’s one he undoubtedly has to face.
Early this season, Jordan has looked every bit the part of defensive coordinator. He’s been the Clippers’ vocal leader defensively and has reduced the occasional boneheaded mistakes that plagued him throughout his first four seasons. Young players tend to gradually progress as they mature — especially on the defensive end — and Jordan is aware of his improvements.
“I’ve been kind of picking my spots,” said Jordan. “The last couple of years I went after everything, and that’d lead to other teams getting offensive rebounds or myself getting in foul trouble. [I’ve] really [been] just slowing down, offensively and defensively.”
The buzz of the preseason was Jordan’s improved post repertoire, which he said was a result of intense offseason work and a newfound comfort with his teammates. Part of that offseason routine also included free throw shooting, an area where Jordan has notoriously struggled. His form doesn’t have any laughable quirks, but for whatever reason, he struggles to make even half of his attempts.
In Jordan’s eyes, it’s all in his head. He said he’ll make 15 or 20 in a row in practice, believe it or not, but can’t seem to do so during a game.
If it’s 100 percent mental, then what is Jordan thinking of when he’s at the line?
“I try to think of not being at the line. But when you go to the line, it’s like there are 20,000 people looking at me right now and it’s focused on you,” said Jordan. “But once you get over that hump and just pretend that you’re at practice, just playing catch and working on your shot, then it’ll come together.”
Despite Jordan’s initial struggles from the charity stripe this season, he’s confident he’ll improve. There’s no quick fix, he says, but if there were one, he’d like to try it.
“It’ll take time. You can’t just work with a shooting coach for two months and then expect to come out and shoot 90 percent,” said Jordan. “That doesn’t happen and if it does, I’d like to meet the person who has done that, because I’d like to pay them a lot of money to help me out.”
A couple of weeks ago, on Prime Ticket’s Clippers-Lakers telecast, it was revealed that Jordan has recently sought advice from former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen (news to which Jordan responded: “They said that? Damn, they’re telling my business, man.”), a poor free throw shooter and excellent defender in his own right.
Ever since the two met in China, when Jordan and the Clippers were playing the Miami Heat in a couple of exhibition games, they clicked and have spoken on the phone daily.
“Bruce is a great guy. It’s always good to have a mentor like that,” said Jordan. “Someone who has played the game and who can share some of his experiences with me, both good and bad, so I can improve as a player and a person.”
Whatever Bowen’s telling Jordan is working. 2012-13 D.J. is unlike any version we’ve ever seen. He’s aggressive and assertive, two traits he’s lacked in the past. Best of all, he’s developed a soft touch around the basket, converting one-dribble power hook shots with ease from either hand.
Sometimes it seems Jordan is a boy among men, trying to figure out how to thrive off of more than just his 6’11 height and freakish athleticism. Other times, as he’s shown this season, he looks like a man among boys, taking the initiative to enforce his will on both ends of floor.
A man, mind you, who still plays video games.