Last Wednesday, the story broke that Los Angeles Clippers superfan "Clipper Darrell" Bailey had been asked to drop his association with the team and not use their name for his own financial gain. The decision made a certain amount of business sense, but also smacked of the Clippers' usual tone-deaf, selfish approach to public relations. In dumping Darrell, and later claiming he was only a fan of his own ability to make money, the franchise showed that it cared little for someone who was pretty much the only source of positivity around the Clippers for several seasons.
The story has become more complicated in the last five days, with Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke noting that Darrell's fandom might not have been quite so pure as he expressed in public. Still, there's a great deal of support for Bailey, and he went on the Los Angeles ABC affiliate after Sunday's Lakers/Heat game to talk about his situation. You can watch the segment above (via Deadspin). Beware: It's a little awkward — Darrell breaks down in tears twice while trying to discuss what's transpired with the Clippers.
If you believe Plaschke's column, then it's easy to read some play-acting in Darrell's appearance: His tears could very well be there to gain sympathy. On the other hand, even if he's engaging in a little emotional hyperbole, the root of his response feels right. For 11 years, Darrell has been the world's most conspicuous Clippers fan. Regardless of his business interests, he's devoted a good portion of his life to proclaiming his love for the team. To be turned back and told his services are no longer wanted must feel terrible.
[Related: Redemption for Clipper Darrell ... maybe]
This doesn't have to be an either/or issue. The Clippers matter to Darrell (and vice-versa, if the franchise would ever admit it). Losing that connection hurts no matter what he did to cause it.
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