The Los Angeles Clippers are a historically flawed organization. Since moving to L.A., they have been the bumbling fools of the Western Conference. From top to bottom, the team and its management has seemed completely uninterested in establishing a successful, or even relevant, second franchise in Los Angeles. Instead, they were content to let the Lakers bask in the Southern California sun.
This season seemed to be shaping up the same way despite the team drawing more attention with its young and talented core. Then Chris Paul was added to the mix in a trade with the New Orleans Hornets. Suddenly, there was hope in Clipperland. Perhaps the organization was changing its losing ways. Maybe this is the turning point that will bring the team into continued relevance. The front office finally did something good for the team.
In terms of what the Clippers are doing on the basketball court, the team is good. They are winning and Paul and Blake Griffin are leading “Lob City” to regular wins in a deep conference. For once there is hope. Only the Clippers could screw up such a good thing, and they have.
Through all the tribulation that the Clippers organization has put its fans through over the past decades, there has been on man who has stood by the organization for the past 15 years. Darrell Bailey, known to the world as “Clipper Darrell,” has been the face of Clipper fandom. For more than a decade, he has been a season ticket holder and has attended 400 plus home games. As the Clippers have been in the dumps for much of that time one would assume that they would celebrate Clipper Darrell’s dedication to the organization. However, as Clipper Darrell noted on his blog on Wednesday, that is simply not the case.
The Clippers have told Bailey to drop the “Clipper” from his nickname as it infringes on the organization and allows him to unduly profit because of his unofficial association to the team.
MediaBistro has the details from Bailey:
According to Bailey, the Clippers offered him an additional free season ticket if he dropped the Clipper nickname.
“That’s when everything went haywire and they said I was trying to make money off sponsorships,” Bailey added. “If people are going to pay me to do some things, why not do it? I don’t see any harm in it as long as I’m not hurting the brand itself. I’m going to high schools, charity events, I do it all. They told me at the end of the conversation that, ‘We would like you not to be Clipper Darrell anymore and would like you to go back to Darrell Bailey.’”
Yeah. Way to go, Clippers.
Here is their official statement, via the OC 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.”
What a smug statement. One has to wonder if it was originally written on a Donald Sterling eviction notice letterhead.
Obviously, the next logical step for the Clippers’ front office is to send a cease and desist order to Bill Simmons for regularly touting that he is a season ticket holder. He is also clearly trying to profit off the Clippers’ name and product.
So, well done, Clippers management! Now that your team is relevant you scorn your most recognizable and likeable fan. Surely, no backlash will come from this. Oh, wait, the internet picked up on this story and ran with it. Not only that, but three of the biggest stars on the Clippers, yes, actual players, tweeted their support for Clipper Darrell.
Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan all issued their solidarity with Clipper Darrell. Griffin tweeted, “Bring back #ClipperDarrell.” Jordan chimed in with, “I love Clipper Darrell….#ClipperDarrell.” And Paul tweeted directly at him, “@ClipperDarrell WE GOT YOU!!!” Since the tweets initially went live Wednesday afternoon, both Griffin’s and Jordan’s have been removed from their profiles.
It was not just Clippers’ players who sided with Darrell. The Milwuakee Bucks’ Andrew Bogut also showed his support via twitter saying, “
@clipperdarrell mate that is terrible. If you want to be Buck Darrell you are always welcome. The NBA needs more fans like you!”
“Am I going to go back as Clipper Darrell? I can’t. It’s kind of hard to get back into a groove again. Honestly, it tells me they really didn’t care about me from the jump. They just used me for their advertisement and that’s the hurtful situation,” Bailey told MediaBistro.
Clearly this move by the Clippers can be called boneheaded and that is keeping it PG. Was it not obvious that they would somehow ruin their success? Most probably thought it would be with player management but this is a public relations disaster. It should take a while for them to clean up this mess…about as long as it takes Donald Sterling to do the needed repairs on one of his slum tenements.