We’ve waited a long time for this. The Clippers? A serious team? Legitimate contenders in the Western Conference? Two of the best players in the game on the starting five?
Every Clippers fan over the past one, two, five, ten seasons has grown accustomed to the disappointment of the following scenarios:
1. The season, independent of prospects, fun, etc., will end with the team having a losing record
2. Despite the hope of having a winning season, the team’s front office will make some off- or mid-season blunder (or even a draft choice...Olowokandi, Korolev, Wilcox?), usually prompted by the paradoxical notion of saving money instead of winning (even though winning usually creates larger profits for sports franchises)
3. The Lakers winning (something, if not a championship), and basketball fans in Los Angeles not comprehending why any casual to obsessive basketball fan in the city would remain faithful to such a doomed franchise.
But to not understand this dedication is to not understand the Clippers fan. There is more to being a fan than winning—and standing alongside the Clippers, through the mostly bad times (and some good, to be fair), is the realization of the committed fan. Commitment, see, isn’t easy. It would have been much easier for all of us to just show up to the Staples Center on another day, root for the perennially contending Lakers, and leave the red, white, and blue behind for good. In reality, it may have even been possible to forget that they even existed. We know better, though. Clippers fans—including us, the writers and editors of this fan blog—exemplify what it has taken to remain a Clippers fan, to root for David and not Goliath, the Revolutionaries instead of tawdry Red Coats, Che Guevera instead of, er... The point is that every team, every player—hell, every person—needs loyal fans who are willing to ride the ups and downs, laugh, criticize, and enjoy the good and bad times, and, when it comes to being a Clippers fan, be passionate about basketball.
It is, after all, being passionate about basketball that keeps the Clippers fans around. Because it clearly isn’t fair weather keeping Clipper Nation strong. Don’t get us wrong, the good times have been great. There’s the 2006 Denver playoff series, the showtime era (early 2000s) with Q-Rich, Miles, and Lamar, the Griffin rookie season (made even better by emerging talents Gordon, Bledsoe, and Jordan) with accompanying dunk over Kia moment—and now, with the addition of Chris Paul, the good times, it seem, are finally (hopefully) here to stay. But these fun moments have been relatively few and far between, scattered amongst decades of dismal floundering and terrible franchise moves that could have easily been enough to scare away even the staunchest of fans. (The only consistent upside being the ticket prices.)
With more than just a chance to bandwagon around an extremely talented point guard and the passes he’ll make to an extremely talented power forward, Clippers fans in 2011 have finally reached the place that every sports fan dreams of, the reason that every good, true sports fan—every fan that has a team they live and die for—watches sports, is enamored with sports, wears a Clippers hat despite being the worst team in the league. This moment is, of course, the acquisition of Chris Paul and the development of young talent like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan; it is the realization that yes, it is in fact happening: the Clippers are serious (!) contenders in the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association. Like every team that is the little brother in a two-team city (Angels-Dodgers, White Sox-Cubs, Mets-Yankees, Giants-Jets) the Clippers-Lakers dynamic has always been lopsided. But the Angels and Mets have had their championships, their shining moments of validation after years of cross-town bullying. The little brother team seems to always find its time to succeed.It seems like it is finally the Clippers’ time to stake their claim in Los Angeles basketball.
We are fans. You are fans. Welcome, everyone, to Clipper Nation.