Clipper Darrell buries the hatchet with team
If you thought the Lakers were the only team in L.A. made for Hollywood, you haven't watched the Clipper Darrell saga unfold over the past three weeks.
On Feb. 29, Darrell Bailey, an 11-year season-ticket holder and superfan, wrote on his blog that the Clippers had asked him to discontinue his Clipper Darrell persona and, more specifically, stop using the team name and trademark.
This meant Bailey could no longer wear his red and blue suit and represent the team that brought him hope when he was laid off from his job in 1994.
Over the next few days, he made his rounds in the media and even cried on a local Los Angeles news show.
He lost his superfan powers.
According to the Clippers, Bailey's allegations were "absurd and unfounded" and later that day the organization released a biting letter to put him in his place.
"He is not actually a fan of the Clippers, but a fan of what he can make off of the Clippers," the team wrote in a statement. "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."
This is the thanks Bailey gets for supporting the team at a time when selling oranges on a 110 off-ramp was more profitable than selling a Clippers ticket?
Since that callous statement, and the subsequent media uproar, Bailey wrote in his blog that he and the Clippers have quietly come to a mutual agreement on his role with the team.
Terms of that agreement were requested via email and phone call through the Clippers' communications department. That request was forwarded to upper management, which has not responded. Bailey would not comment.
After reading on Twitter that Clipper Darrell was at one of the team's games last week, the answer seemed clear. He had waved the white flag after being dogged out by the organization.
After that damning press release, how could Bailey, or any loyal Clipper fan, continue to cheer for Los Angeles' junior varsity team? The Clippers are experiencing just their third season in the last 31 years with a record greater than .500. They have made it to the playoffs seven times in 41 years. Take it from a Knicks fan -- that's bad.
Then there's the infamous Clipper Curse that historically sends the team's best players to the inactive list prematurely due to injury.
Now that the Clippers are seeing a bit of success and are possible playoff contenders with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, they should reward fans like Bailey, not write horrible words about them in the press.
It's also hard to understand how, as an African-American, Clipper Darrell could cheer enthusiastically for so many years for a team whose owner, Donald Sterling, was sued by the U.S. Justice Department for housing discrimination against prospective Hispanic and black tenants.
Former Clippers executive and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor accused Sterling of perpetuating a "plantation mentality" in a wrongful-termination suit filed in 2009. Sterling allegedly told Baylor he wanted to fill his team with "poor black boys from the South and a white head coach." Two years later, a jury rejected the lawsuit.
Sterling's alleged racism is nothing to dance in the aisles about. Yet, Bailey continues his shimmy at Staples Center.
Bailey should explore his options with other Los Angeles teams, someplace where his services would be more appreciated. Certainly the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, the other championship professional hoops team in town, would embrace him.
"We've admired Darrell's enthusiasm and energy during basketball games at Staples Center and beyond over the past several years," said Chris Forrest, Sparks director of marketing. "We've reached out to Darrell and are considering opportunities to potentially integrate him into the Sparks' game-day experience this upcoming season."
Bailey could give Donald Sterling the ultimate kiss-off and start cheering for the opposition. How does Laker Darrell sound?
The only reason Bailey could be staying with the Clippers is in support of the players. Paul, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan all tweeted in support of Bailey.
Jordan: "I love Clipper Darrell....#ClipperDarrell"
Chris Paul: "@clipperdarrell WE GOT YOU!!!"
Griffin: "Bring back #ClipperDarrell"
If the players are his reason for sticking by the Clippers, more power to him. He should rock his red and blue suit in forgiveness but never forget how poorly his beloved team treated him.
As for the Clippers organization, it should learn superfans like Clipper Darrell deserve to be embraced, not excluded.
Because, as their past losing seasons and misfortunes have taught us, karma is a Clipper.