I've been avoiding this story for days. I read Steve's post on the subject yesterday, but didn't follow the thread. I don't really like Clipper Darrel much, I hate "the wave", hate what I perceive are overwrought, bush-league antics. I always felt his act was too much about Darryl and not enough about the basketball and the Clippers. I was very anxious for the whole thing to blow over, for Steve Perrin's post about the incident to get pushed down the page, and for the twitterverse to quiet down and forget about it.
Nationwide, a variety of writers were using the incident to illustrate what is all-too-wrong with the Clipper organization. Andrew Sharp, who I usually enjoy, used it, to once again wonder how we, as a fanbase, could possibly root for a team owned by a creep like Donald Sterling.
So, why am I posting about it again this morning? Why am I dipping in and fanning the dying embers? Because Bill Plaschke made a phone call (to Carl Lahr, Clipper's VP of Marketing and Sales) and wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times. You'll find it here. I urge you to read the article in it's entirety. I'm posting here on the front page because I want others, the national basketball cognoscenti to read the article as well. (Here's the trick: If I put a link to it on the front page of Clips Nation I can access Steve Perrin's twitter account. And it will link to this post and hopefully cause others to read Plaschke's piece. I could of course, link it to my twitter account as well, but I have only three followers, only one of whom I know personally.. and I don't think he cares about Clipper Darrell.)
Hat tip to C. Jayq who had the link in the fanshots late last night. A few excerpts from Plaschke:
It is Joe Fan versus Donald T. Sterling. It is lovable die-hard versus soulless corporation. Guess whose side everyone has taken?
Folks used to ripping the team for past mistakes — yet stifled during this wondrous season — have happily resumed their catcalls, tearing into them for being arrogant, classless and just plain mean. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have tweeted their support. One colleague even likened the Clippers to the overweight guy who loses 50 pounds and promptly dumps his girlfriend.
First, the Clippers love having Darrell Bailey at their games. They love him so much, for the last couple of years they've given him a free ticket. Yes, while many others in the building are shelling out thousands for the hottest show in town, Bailey is given a prime lower-bowl spot for free.
The problem is, Darrell Bailey also wants to represent the Clippers outside the arena. He wants to make paid public appearances on behalf of the Clippers and give interviews as a Clippers spokesman and essentially turn his rooting interest into a business interest.
Amazingly, the Clippers don't have a problem with that either. Although most teams would sue any fan who tried to capitalize on their name, the Clippers told Bailey they would not stop him from representing them, but would simply insist that he follow the same rules that apply to every other employee.
Bailey, who did not return phone calls for this story, reportedly felt like this attempt at control was too stifling. So last week in a phone call with Lahr, he offered to stop being Clipper Darrell. Lahr told him that might be a good idea, but that he should think about it. Bailey never phoned back, and then Wednesday afternoon issued the statement on his website, stunning a Clippers organization that thought he was being treated fairly.
Darrell Bailey is, by all accounts, a nice man with a good heart. Here's hoping he will come back to Staples Center in full regalia when the team returns there March 11. Here's hoping he can agree to lead cheers without profiting from them. He might not be Clipper Darrell, but he'll always be the Clippers' Darrell, and here's hoping that's enough.