for those who care to know
I was 10 or 11. I was browsing in sports apparel store at the mall. I came across a fine looking red, white and blue cap with a team name and logo that I didn't recognize. I asked the kid working the counter who the Los Angeles Clippers were (living in New Jersey, I knew that the Yankees had a farm team called the Clippers, but the ball on this logo was decidedly a basketball).
The clerk wasn't sure; thought the Clippers may be an NBA team from LA (a second NBA team in Los Angeles, who knew?) I was a baseball fan thru and thru - didn't know that much about basketball, other than Magic/Bird. He suggested a Lakers hat, but the gold and purple was kind of girly looking, so I decided to go with the cooler looking Clippers hat. I was totally unprepared for the sneering and ridicule that I would encounter. It was either, "Clippers? Who are they?" or "Clippers? They suck?". But I have thick skin, so I stuck to my guns and continued to sport the hat. It was not long after that I began following basketball and realized that the Clippers really do suck. The hat was getting worn and dirty anyway. And besides, they were very difficult to follow from the east coast. Maybe I should get on board with a local team.
So I bought a Nets hat. In 1991. "Nets suck!"
I found the Clippers hat in a box at my mom's house in 2000. I had been living in CA for 2 years, and thought it was time to get on board with a local team. I didn't want to be a bandwagon Lakers fan, so I decided to maybe start keeping tabs on the Clippers.
My girlfriend started working for a surgery center in Studio City in 2001. They had season tickets to Staples Center - four seats on the Premier Level for all events. Naturally, everyone wanted the Lakers tickets, but Clippers tickets were always available. One Monday in the 01-02 season, she asked if I wanted to go see them play the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, November 14th. Apparently, nobody else at the office wanted the tickets (2001 Bulls sucked). I hadn't been to a game, and was excited about the upcoming season, which was Elton Brand's first.
Well, about two weeks prior, I had proposed to her (she said yes). We wanted to do something quick and easy, no big wedding. Vegas was out of the question - too cheesey - and the pastor at our church wanted to do a month's worth of premarital counseling. Since we had decided to abstain between the time of proposal and the time of tying the knot, we found ourselves in a little bit of a hurry to get it done.
I called the County Clerk's office in Norwalk on Tuesday, the day before the game. They had an opening with the Justice of the Peace for 5:30 pm the next day, Wednesday.. The next available date was weeks away. We HAD to go to the game, because we didn't want her to get in trouble for wasting the tickets. But we really didn't want to push off the "wedding" any longer (the whole abstiance thing was seeming a bit foolhearted and hasty).
So we got married at 6pm in Norwalk and went to our first Clipper game at 7:30, November 14, 2001. Some honeymoon.
*Clips won the game, btw. The very promising PG Keyon Dooling went down with a horrible ankle injury. Brand, Odom, Miles, Q, Kandi, McGinnis, Maggette, Piatkowski, Sean Rooks and Boykins. That was the squad. Almost made the playoffs that year.
We continued to get the free Clippers tickets from her work for the next five years. All of a sudden in 05-06, they were not quite as available. So we ended up buying our own. She is no longer with that company, anyways.
There you have it. My Clippers story. Update [2007-9-19 14:3:39 by mp]: I should add that this story is the reason that my wife became interested in basketball, and especially the Clippers. She is the one that bought the season tickets when she left the company. I would have preferred to save the money rather than give it to Donald T. Sterling, but I'm smart enough to know not to ruin a good thing, like a wife shelling out money for season tickets to your favorite team. She could have just as well spent the money on a new china set (actually, she did both). Because of this, our home has become a sports household. When the Clippers are eliminated, we usually root for the Pistons (she likes the fact that they play as one cohesive unit). She hates the Lakers, and despises Kobe. She likes Shaq and Wade. She thinks Carmelo really isn't that "Melo" at all. I'm very lucky. We still hear it from our family and friends, who are knee-jerk Lakers fans. They don't understand us. Why would we have a house adorned with Clippers paraphanalia and have so many shirts and hats. My brother in law can't figure out why I'm watching the Clippers when the Lakers are on the other channel. But they all knew in 2005 that we were not Johnny-come-lately's.