It’s not new news that the Los Angeles Clippers are back . . . err . . . here for the first time, I guess. With nothing to lose except for their “Worst Franchise in all of Professional Sports” label, the other team in L.A. has surged past the Kobe/Jackson tandem in this young season. To add to their accomplishments, they’ve given this disenchanted fan an NBA home.
You see, I used to jokingly refer to myself as a Clippers fan, growing up in north Orange County. I really wanted to root for this team, feeling a certain allegiance to them since they played a home game in Anaheim about once a month, not to mention their underdog status. So I would pull for them when they played against the Lakers, but by the time playoffs rolled around, I had quietly joined the celebrity-featuring Lake Show bandwagon. It just wasn’t possible to be a true Clippers fan.
They didn’t even have their own arena in a market that would never accept them; and one could make a case that they didn’t even have their own teams, as year in and year out they borrowed players trying to land a big money contract down the road.
Then, right around the time that I moved to the East Coast, the whole Kobe Bryant scandal began. For the rest of my life, I will adamantly cheer against team Kobe. At best, the guy is boorish and insensitive, and at worst, he’s a rapist. Finding myself completely devoid of affiliation to an NBA franchise, I thought that perhaps I could adopt my new hometown squad, the New York Yankees of basketball, the Boston Celtics. But I quickly realized that the Boston sports scene of the 21st century revolves around the Sox and the Pats; and Celtics’ games are just an opportunity for Boston fans to talk about these respective teams during the off season. Besides, watching Paul Pierce blow fourth quarters gets old surprisingly fast.
So I was a sports fan without a basketball team, an embarrassing place to find myself, like being a kindergartner without a favorite color. But this year’s Clippers squad is one that can bring me home again, to the first love that my heart never really left even during my recreational phase. I can finally call myself a Clippers fan without a smirk . . . at least until they tank in mid-January.