I Blame Myself And The Gypsy Braves Fan I Must Have Pissed Off

I have a story to tell, and I live in Los Angeles. I have lived in Los Angeles for 25 years. And so, like most Angelenos, I have contracted and developed a severe, pervasive and incurable case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Which means that all stories must begin with...a little bit

I grew up in San Diego in the 1970's and I loved basketball. I was horrible at it. The smallest and worst point guard on the smallest and nearly worst high school basketball team in San Diego County, I could be counted on for 5-10 minutes of truly execrable, turnover and foul-ridden garbage time per game. I was so bad, I was the only player on my high school basketball team with his own, personalized cheer from our squad of lovely cheerleaders: ("Take it away, give it Jay!" they would chant in unison, whenever I entered the game, because...I sucked so patently). But I loved basketball. Loved it. And wanted an NBA team to root for. (Like the Lakers, but they were Los Angeles and in San just didn't root for LA teams. The Dodgers were despised. The Rams were eyed warily. When the Raiders moved to LA, it confirmed and tapped into our municipal hatred for our Northern neighbors).

In 1977, when I was 14, I was at my buddy's house and we were listening to the radio when the DJ announced that if San Diego could attract 5,000 committed season ticket holders, the city would be in the running to nab the Buffalo Braves franchise. Beginning a career of outright misleading, if not thoroughly fraudulent behavior, I immediately called the number provided and, lowering my voice about five octaves, pretended to be my well-respected physician father and committed our family to being season ticket holders. A few months later, my father got a phone call from the now San Diego Clipper franchise thanking him for his legal commitment to own two season tickets and asking for his credit card number. Did I mention he was a doctor and not a lawyer? He gave it to them. Which, by my crappy math and baseless egotism, means I was .04% responsible for the Braves leaving Buffalo and becoming the Clippers.

And thus began a lifetime of pain. For better or for worse -- who am I kidding -- for freaking worse, I became a fan of the Clippers. I remember getting a ride to the very first Clippers game -- and I'm not talking about the first regular season game -- I'm talking about the VERY FIRST EXHIBITION GAME at the San Diego Sports Arena where I set with tens of thousands, er hundreds, er...tens of other fans. I remember scouring the newly-minted Media Guide and focusing on our newly drafted rookies (Jerome Whitehead). I remember the starting lineup for the San Diego Cilppers 1978-79 team: Swen Nater at Center; Kermit Washington at the 4; Sidney Wicks at the 3; Lloyd (soon-to-be-"World") B. Free at the 2; and the glorious Randy Smith at point. Bench included Nick Weatherspoon ("Spooooon!" we'd yell), Freeman Williams (out of Portland State), Joe ("Jelly Bean" and Kobe-daddy-to-be) Bryant, and Kevin Kunnert (nickname NSFW). Coach Gene Shue. I sat with my Dad screaming when Randy Smith drained a deep shot from the top of the key late in the season against our arch rivals the OKC/Kansas City Kings to put us in a very good shot at a playoff position, but a few losses later, we were out of it, still finishing the season with a winning record, and hope for the future.

How do you not have hope for the future when you lived in SD in the 1970's, had a great family and were 15 years old? And owned season tickets to the San Diego Clippers who just barely missed the playoffs and then signed reigning MVP Bill Walton from the Portland Trailblazers?

But I retrospect...there must have been a Gypsy Woman in Buffalo with a deep and abiding love for the Buffalo Braves. I think she must have existed. I think she must have been mad when her Bob McAdoo, Ernie (no) D, Moses Malone for 6 games, beloved Braves shattered her Gypsy heart. And I think she must have cursed the team...horribly...inexorably...forever...and...ever.

There is no other explanation for what came next.

We all know it. I don't need to say the words. We know.

And DTS was her masterstroke, the height of her artistry, the gift that keeps on giving...back to her blackened, withered, bitter, angry heart. For the loss of her team.

I need to say it. I will say it. I am sorry Buffalo Gypsy Woman. I am sorry. Please. Stop. 35 years is enough. I'll do anything you want. I will come to you. I will wash your feet. I will mop your brow. I will buy you some really cool Buffalo Braves throwback gear. I will root with you for the Sabres. Anything. Stop.

You have made your point.

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