PHILADELPHIA – Corey Brewer received a phone call at 5:30 am on Wednesday, hours before he was supposed to leave his home in Tarzana, California to take the Los Angeles Lakers team flight to Philadelphia.
His Uber driver called several times until Brewer finally picked up, telling Brewer that they had to leave then if he was going to make his flight, with the Los Angeles Skirball Fire quickly approaching the 405 freeway.
When Brewer He sat on the back of his descending 405, the Lakers in front, like so many other horrified passengers in Los Angeles that morning, could not believe what they saw. The usual canyon scene in 405 was replaced by fire burning on one side of the canyon, like red lava flowing from a volcano.
"It was crazy," said Brewer. "You call and things like that we end up going in a different way, it's crazy right now, all you can do is pray for people in Los Angeles, pray for people in the mountains everywhere, it was bad, they said it got worse They said the wind is going crazy right now, I think the wind is going to make it really bad. "
" I'm lucky, "Brewer continued. "Right now [his home is] OK, I'm going to my backyard and I see all the smoke, it smells, Ash, I went through a hurricane this year, I'm going through fires now."
This is the second natural disaster experienced by Brewer. in just under five months. Brewer, who was traded in the Rockets to the Lakers in February, spent the offseason in Houston and was there during Hurricane Harvey in August. Brewer said he was incredibly lucky that the water only "came to the front of my house and then came down again." Your house avoided damage.
Brewer – who played in his 301 consecutive game on Thursday against the 76ers, the most active streak in the NBA – said that if it had not been for his Uber driver, someone he befriended and often employed in Los Angels, the team's flight would have been lost.
Brewer said the driver, Sam, had already left to pick up Brewer at the house he rents in Tarzana, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region, when he called him and woke him up.
Brewer arrived at the Lakers' facilities around 8:15 a.m. It was a 2½ hour trip that you will never forget.
"Man, it would have been bad," Brewer said if he had driven himself. "I would have left at 7:15, I would not have been sure, we were [on our way] and my mother-in-law sent me a text message, saying they were going to close the 405 and they're going to have to find a different way. otherwise, I'm just going for Waze, Sam saved me. "
"You could see the flames and then we went down," Brewer added about his driver taking an alternate route. "I do not know how we got to the airport, he went crazy, I went through LA probably, if it was not for him, he probably would not have made it to the plane."
Lakers coach Luke Walton said the team's plane went off a producer of Spectrum SportsNet that supposedly would be in the team for the network that covers the Lakers.
"I felt bad because we left someone in Los Angeles because we have a 15-minute policy, and he was late," Walton said. "I did not realize at the time the fires were so bad, but when I landed, I got a lot of calls and text messages and pictures of what it looked like, it's sad, people lose their homes, sad anywhere. [but] when it happens in his hometown, obviously it means a little more. "
"It was crazy to look at it," Walton said of watching video footage of the fires. "When you live there and you drive those roads and those highways and you look around and see what they look like, it's scary and sad and you just hope everyone is well"