Why I Continue to Be a Clippers Fan

Stephen Dunn

It's important to me that many voices be heard right now... to that end, I'm bumping this excellent fanpost from citizen AClip to the front page. Steve

Four days into the aftermath of Donaldgeddon and friends will no doubt wonder why I haven’t spoken up yet, being that I’m this huge Clippers fan. Why haven’t I posted a comment to Facebook or Tweeted something? However, it’s taken four days for the roller coaster of hurt, sadness, disappointment, anger, anxiety, and ultimately elation to settle in to coherent thought. It’s taken that long for me to reconcile what it means to be a Clippers fan. And frankly, I feel that this is bigger than a 140 characters.

People most close to me know me as a passionate loyal Clippers fan since my formative years in the late 80s/early 90s. Enduring as a fan of one of the most inept, mismanaged, and cursed organizations in sports instilled in me two qualities - a never quit no matter how hard it gets sense of determination and a no matter how bad things get there's always hope sense of positivity.

Despite all of the blown out knees, flubbed draft picks, and mismanaged free agents, I could always find something to give me hope for the future…until those hopes got crushed time and again. I’ve withstood years of Benoit Benjamin to see the promise of drafting Danny Manning. I’ve withstood Danny Manning’s ACL to see the promise of Larry Brown’s Clippers (Doc, Ron Harper, Mark Jackson, the General Gary Grant, Charles Smith, Ken Norman). I’ve withstood the Manning-Nique trade to see the promise of Brent Barry, Pike, and Loy Vaught. I’ve withstood Olowokandi to see the promise of Odom, Q, Darius Miles, Cory Maggette, and Elton Brand. I’ve withstood the Odom departure to see the promise of Dunleavy’s playoff teams. I’ve withstood the Livingston knee, Brand debacle and Baron Davis aftermath to see the promise of Blake Griffin. And finally, there wasn’t anymore withstanding needed. There was just the more promise after promise added. CP3. Playoffs. Doc. Franchise records. Division championships. Championship contention.

For thirty long years I’ve been waiting for the team to get to this point. I felt the team had not only turned a corner finally, but that it was never going to go down the same road again. The sign of the turnaround was when Chauncey blew out his Achilles and the future didn’t fall into limbo. The team still had it. The past couple of seasons have made it seem like my patience was paying off. My emotional investment was about to pay dividends. My faith rewarded. And all of the pain and suffering would finally be overcome.

And then Donaldgeddon.

How foolish of me to think Clippers could continue on a trajectory of success without some major calamity taking place. The universe must restore balance by offsetting the amplitude of the team’s recent success with a crisis of equal amplitude.

There’s no arguing how horrible the comments made by Sterling are. And yet how can I continue to support the Clippers knowing their bigoted owner has crossed the line of decency far too many times?

What I’ve come to accept is that Sterling does not represent the Clippers. What represents the Clippers is this team on the floor that has put in the 10,000 hours of blood, sweat and tears to give us, the fans a product we can be proud of. What represents the Clippers are the fans, especially those longsuffering, who have agonized over the direction of the franchise for years, yet poured out their hearts to support the teams through thick and thin. This reciprocating relationship is what it means to be Clipper Nation.

Some owners are a part of that relationship – Jerry Buss, Mark Cuban. They are part of the fabric of the organization. But in the case of the Clippers, Sterling has always played the part of Prince John, the reviled tyrant in Robin Hood lore. There is nothing more Clipper than having a reason to hate Donald Sterling. Being a Clippers fan meant you were a citizen of Nottingham, always hoping for the day the ruthless ruler would be deposed.

So when the NBA took action to ban Sterling for good, the moment many fans including myself have been patiently waiting years for finally arrived. The universe has indeed responded to the gravity of Sterling’s offenses with an equal and opposite reaction. Just when it seemed like the future couldn’t get any dimmer – when even Doc questions his own future with the team – hope shines and faith is restored. I’m reminded of why we persevere as Clippers fans – for the promise of a future where the team is not just viewed as property, where the loyalty of fans and players is met with loyalty from ownership, and where mismanagement and ineptitude is no longer a looming threat to undermine progress. We persevere as Clippers fans for the players and for our fellow fans. We persevere to overcome the tribulations facing the team and society at large.

If it’s always darkest before the dawn as they say, then the Clippers now are in the midst of a new day.

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