Getting in and out of an airplane is a standard daily routine for NBA players as each respective team has an 82-game slate per season, 41 games on the road, and 41 at home. Whenever they are on the team plane, players often pass time by betting on card games, browsing their phones, or getting a quick nap to rejuvenate their bodies during the rigors of the season.
Like most NBA players, February 25 was just a normal day for the Los Angeles Clippers. After a grueling 175-176 overtime loss vs the Sacramento Kings, the Clippers players were understandably exhausted, already thinking about hopping onto their team plane and getting a quick snooze when they flew off to face the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets in Colorado.
While the skies were particularly cloudy before their flight took off, it was nothing compared to flying through the snow during the winter months of the year. But as the players were napping after settling into their flight, the plane took a sudden veer to the left after just a minute in the air, with the Pacific Ocean in plain view.
The plane began to shake and rattle, alarming the players and the staff on board. All of a sudden, a loud bang was heard and some of the plane and Clippers staff saw a bright flash on the right of the aircraft. The engine went off for a few seconds before it came back roaring loudly, legitimately scaring everybody on board. Some players shouted in horror and Bones Hyland thought that ‘everything was over’.
The team’s aircraft actually dropped altitude several times and the incident left some Clipper players and the staff horrified. Eric Gordon stated in a recent interview, “Us players, we’re trying to nap away. Oh, everybody was up after that for sure.” The incident prompted Gordon to call it the second-worst flight experience in his life.
After the scary encounter, the team went on to land safely in Colorado but upon closer inspection of the exterior of the aircraft, they saw a dark mark on the tail of the plane with some of its paint damaged. It was clear to this point that the Clippers’ team plane was struck by lightning and everybody was just happy that they got safely to their destination after a petrifying event in mid-air.