Now that they've been good for 32 whole games, the Los Angeles Clippers have decided to make a power play and get rid of the team’s only legitimate fan.
Darrell Bailey, a.k.a. Clipper Darrell, is a well known and respected (well, you know) figure in Los Angeles who has been a diehard fan of the worst organization in basketball -- and perhaps all of sports -- for well over a decade. He repped them when they were awful (99.9 percent of the time), and he's repped them just as proudly ever since David Stern gave them Chris Paul and a new lease on life on a silver platter.
How big of a fan is Bailey, exactly? Well, he willingly left his house looking like this on numerous occasions:
And his car looks like this:
According to the good folks at FishBowlLA, Clippers brass recently spoke to Clipper Darrell and, in thanks for his many years of loyalty and dedication to the franchise, asked him to refrain from using the word “Clipper” in his name. Seriously.
The front office wants superfan “Clipper Darrell,” aka Darrell Bailey, to drop the Clipper nickname.
After Bleacher Report was denied media credentials while doing a profile on the man who has stood by the Clippers through thick and a whole lot of thin, Bailey called team president Andy Roeser to get an explanation.
Carl Lahr, senior vice president of marketing and sales, eventually returned Bailey’s call last week and informed him that the organization didn’t need him doing stories or speaking to the media on behalf of the team.
“We got to talking and I said the way I feel, you don’t want Clipper Darrell no more,” Bailey told FishbowlLA Wednesday. “You want Darrell Bailey back. They said, ‘You would do that?’”
According to Bailey, the Clippers offered him an additional free season ticket if he dropped the Clipper nickname.
When word began to spread that the Clippers’ only real fan was no longer being permitted to be a fan of the team in the way that he has been for 15 years, Clipper Darrell took to his personal website to express his frustration:
It is with great sadness that I must report to all those in NBA NATION that I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell, a name that was given to me by the media because of my unwavering support and team spirit. I am devastated!!!!
I have been a season ticket holder for over a decade and a FAN for over 15 years and have dedicated a major part of my life to support the Clipper organization and it’s players no matter what the season’s outcome. Over the years (400 home games) I have gone to great lengths to show my appreciation and loyalty in my attire, the car I drive and in my very own home. I’ve taken seriously the mantra of being “Clipper Darrell” in performing community service, mentoring young children and my participation in outreach programs. I’ve appreciated the struggles of the team to overcome obstacles as I’ve done in my life. I felt vindicated for all the years we as Clipper fans have gone through trials and tribulations and NOW we have a team that can win it all. Yesterday was the hardest day of my life, I felt powerless as a fan, as I was stripped of my identity however, no one can take away my heart and the love I have for my team!
If L.A.’s other basketball team had made this decision years ago when they were awful, everyone would have understood. It would still be sort of weird that they would take it that seriously, but it would still be sort of understandable. This is just mean-spirited, though. You force a guy to ride for you for 15 years despite the embarrassingly awful management, poor on-the-court performance, Donald Sterling’s humiliating antics and God knows what else, only to give him the boot when you finally have a credible team?
In more ways than words could possibly explain, this is the most Clippers thing that the Clippers have done all year long.
Update: The Clippers have released a statement in response to this. The plot thickens. Via O.C. Register:
“The Clippers have done absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate as it concerns Darrell Bailey. His claims are absurd and unfounded. He has never been an employee or representative of the Clippers organization, and therefore cannot be terminated. The Clippers have never engaged Mr. Bailey’s services. When he has been in need, the organization has regularly provided him a seat for games. No good deed goes unpunished.
We have had multiple conversations with him concerning his inappropriate use of the Clippers’ team name and trademark for his own unmonitored commercial gain. We have spoken to him repeatedly about his desire to make public appearances in ways which improperly suggest that he is officially affiliated with our organization. In all cases and over a long period of time, he has consistently rejected our efforts to operate in consultation.
In a conversation with an authoritative and tenured Clippers’ executive last week, he was asked again to either consult with the team on all public appearances and/or commercial ventures, or stop undertaking those opportunities representing himself inappropriately. His response was an offer to stop representing himself commercially in that way and his offer was accepted in principle.
The next thing we heard was the baseless claims he has made today and the ensuing media rush to judgment.
We hold all of our fans in the highest esteem and we have been patient and generous with Mr. Bailey. He has not returned our support in an honorable way. He is not actually a fan of the Clippers, but a fan of what he can make off of the Clippers. We are no longer interested in that kind of association with him, and that is why we accepted his offer to remove our team name from his stage name.”
Dum dum dum.