Originally written on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 11/15/14

If you’ve watched any amount of Clipper games to speak of over the past decade then you probably know Clipper Darrell.  You probably like him, too.  I mean, what’s not to like about a guy who shows up to 400 straight Clipper home games wearing a red and blue suit?  He’s the longest-tenured superfan that I’m aware of, as well as the only one who can regularly be heard loud and clear over the television.  Well, maybe not anymore… but until other people actually started to show up at Clipper games just a few months ago, “Let’s Go Clippers!” served as play-by-play commentator Ralph Lawler’s background track.

For quite some time, Darrell and Lawler were about the only aspects of Clipper basketball to be appreciated.  Including this season, the Clippers have had two winning campaigns since 1992.  They’ve never won an NBA title, and up until December of 2012 I’m not sure they’ve ever even had a remote shot at doing so.  They certainly haven’t under the ownership of Donald Sterling, the infamous real estate mogul who acquired the team in 1981.

Sterling’s reputation among NBA fans certainly isn’t a good one.  He’s regarded as a frugal business man who’s sole interest in the Clippers revolves around the profitability of the franchise, and he’s considered by many to be one of the worst owners in professional sports.  Based on the Clippers’ inability to win as well as their astounding lack of top-tier talent over the course of Sterling’s ownership, I’d say there’s some truth to this claim… which makes the following statement from the franchise regarding Clipper Darrell, the man who everyone considers to be their number-one fan, more than a little ironic.  Via OCRegister.com…

“The Clippers have done absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate as it concerns Darrell Bailey. His claims are absurd and unfounded. He has never been an employee or representative of the Clippers organization, and therefore cannot be terminated. The Clippers have never engaged Mr. Bailey’s services. When he has been in need, the organization has regularly provided him a seat for games. No good deed goes unpunished.

We have had multiple conversations with him concerning his inappropriate use of the Clippers’ team name and trademark for his own unmonitored commercial gain. We have spoken to him repeatedly about his desire to make public appearances in ways which improperly suggest that he is officially affiliated with our organization. In all cases and over a long period of time, he has consistently rejected our efforts to operate in consultation.

In a conversation with an authoritative and tenured Clippers’ executive last week, he was asked again to either consult with the team on all public appearances and/or commercial ventures, or stop undertaking those opportunities representing himself inappropriately. His response was an offer to stop representing himself commercially in that way and his offer was accepted in principle.

The next thing we heard was the baseless claims he has made today and the ensuing media rush to judgment.

We hold all of our fans in the highest esteem and we have been patient and generous with Mr. Bailey. He has not returned our support in an honorable way. He is not actually a fan of the Clippers, but a fan of what he can make off of the Clippers. 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.”

Probably should’ve seen that ensuing rush to judgment coming, Clippers.  Who the hell did you figure the media was going to side with?  You?

For the record, here’s Clipper Darrell’s statement, via his own blog…

It is with great sadness that I must report to all those in NBA NATION that I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell, a name that was given to me by the media because of my unwavering support and team spirit. I am devastated!!!! I have been a season ticket holder for over a decade and a FAN for over 15 years and have dedicated a major part of my life to support the Clipper organization and it’s players no matter what the season’s outcome. Over the years (400 home games) I have gone to great lengths to show my appreciation and loyalty in my attire, the car I drive and in my very own home. I’ve taken seriously the mantra of being “Clipper Darrell” in performing community service, mentoring young children and my participation in outreach programs. I’ve appreciated the struggles of the team to overcome obstacles as I’ve done in my life. I felt vindicated for all the years we as Clipper fans have gone through trials and tribulations and NOW we have a team that can win it all. Yesterday was the hardest day of my life, I felt powerless as a fan, as I was stripped of my identity however, no one can take away my heart and the love I have for my team!

What I want to know is why Clipper Darrell has been allowed to be Clipper Darrell for over a decade if he’s such a big problem?  The timing of the whole thing simply couldn’t have been any worse.  For the first time in franchise history the Clippers are in the national spotlight, so they axe their unofficial mascot over a few dollars that aren’t even coming out of their pocket.  That’s what I think has happened… that’s what most think has happened… and whether that’s what has actually happened or not, does it even matter?  The Clippers obviously come out of this looking like the bad guy.  One would think they would’ve considered their own franchise’s reputation, as well as the concerns of their prized players (Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan all tweeted in support of Darrell during that “rush to judgment”), before pulling a move like this mid-season.

Clippers gonna Clipp.  And by that I mean the Clippers are going to find a way to f@ck it up, no matter what.

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