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People & Places

Best Culturally Diverse Pickup Basketball Scene Los Angeles 2011 

Pan Pacific Park

The courts at the top of Pan Pacific Park are mediocre — cracked concrete, double rims, wooden backboards. On Saturday mornings, the players are, too — some decent and some, in encouraging coach doublespeak, "still learning the game." While a few pickup runs around the city draw crowds, these games attract less attention than the kiddie soccer scrums tumbling through the fields just 100 feet away. Still, the less-than-elegant game play is balanced out by a preposterously diverse scene. At around 6:30 on Saturday mornings, middle-aged Filipino guys in Kobe jerseys loll on lawn chairs between games. An hour later, Mexican, Russian, Armenian, Korean and older white guys arrive, the latter group wearing enough knee braces to fill a sporting goods store. Fairfax High kids, mostly African-American, show up not long after. At any given time, a handful of languages bounce around the court as swiftly as the ball, leading to much confusion. Teammates can't figure out if they're playing man-to-man or zone. Opposing players interpret any indecipherable utterance as mockery. Come to think of it, that's part of the game even when everyone speaks the same language. 7600 Beverly Blvd., Mid-City. (323) 939-0263.

—Andrew Simmons

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