Wherever there is a professional sports team, there is usually a fan who is so into the squad that their every thought, cheer, and sometimes outfit is geared towards representing 'their' team. The Cleveland Browns have their 'Dawg Pound' headed by Dawg Pound Mike and the Washington Redskins have the 'Hoggettes', just to name a couple. For the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, there is 'Clipper Darrell'.
'Clipper Darrell', or Darrell Bailey in his civilian life, is widely known as the Clippers biggest fan. A self-reported Clippers fan for 15 years, Bailey has been to over 400 home games and is a season ticket holder. A while back, Bailey decided to take his support to a new level and had a custom made suit that was half red and half blue. The attention from the taylor-made one-of-a-kind outfit amped up not only his in-game support by leading cheers, but also gave him the quirkiness of performing funky dance moves during breaks in action. Needless to say, 'Clipper Darrell' has won over many of the fans and players at Staples Center in recent years.
That is until 'Clipper Darrell' became so popular that his appearances became considered 'public use' of the franchise name 'Clippers.' The organization decided to put the kibosh on 'Clipper Darrell' at the beginning of March, stirring up a mini-controversy.
Bailey's use of the Clippers brand prompted them to issue the following statement.
“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. […]
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.”
This statement by the team sparked an outrage throughout it's own fanbase and it even extended into it's own clubhouse where team leaders Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both tweeted out support for Bailey. It also broke the heart of one of it's biggest fans who had nothing but love to give to his team.
The media backlash, however, prompted the Clippers and 'Clipper Darrell' to come together and fully work out an understanding of what is allowed by Bailey in regards to appearances as his alter ego. Bailey is once more parading up and down the isles, whooping it up in his trademark suit.
"We have a mutual understanding of what my role is now," Bailey said. "Nothing has changed. I'm still doing what I've been doing, but I'm letting the Clippers know when I make certain appearances. All these appearances though are through season-ticket holders that asked me to come to their kids' games. People wanted to make it seem like I was making appearances in front of Ralph's [grocery stores] or something. It's not like that."
In the end, the light of reason turned its gaze upon this innocent situation and the proper outcome for all was realized.
"I'm always going to love this team," Bailey said. "This team has brought me through a lot of pain and suffering. I didn't realize how much love I had from the fans. The Clipper Darrell chants have been wonderful for me. It's been a beautiful situation. I can't complain one bit."
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS