When news of Clipper Darrell vs. Los Angeles Clippers management first broke, I, like most people jumped to the conclusion that this was just the latest in a long line of Donald Sterling fuck ups. Darrell took his case to the metaphorical streets and the Internet ate it up. The evil Clippers and their racist owner had turned their back on their biggest fan! Not many people stopped to think that perhaps it was Darrell Bailey who was in the wrong.
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!!!!
It seemed very clear that the Clippers were completely in the wrong. The Clippers released a statement that tried to save face. Big evil corporations always do that sort of thing.
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.
Fair enough. Yesterday, Bill Plaschke dropped this bomb. From the LA Times:
First, the Clippers love having Darrell Bailey at their games. They love him so much, for the last couple of years they’ve given him a free ticket. Yes, while many others in the building are shelling out thousands for the hottest show in town, Bailey is given a prime lower-bowl spot for free.
The Clippers love that he performs at the games. They don’t want him to stop his dancing. They don’t want him to tone down his support. They appreciate that he has been a season-ticket holder for a dozen years, and they would be happy to have him show up at every home game and lead Clippers cheers forever.
It’s hard to feel bad for someone who gets to attend professional sporting events for free.
The problem is, Darrell Bailey also wants to represent the Clippers outside the arena. He wants to make paid public appearances on behalf of the Clippers and give interviews as a Clippers spokesman and essentially turn his rooting interest into a business interest.
Amazingly, the Clippers don’t have a problem with that either. Although most teams would sue any fan who tried to capitalize on their name, the Clippers told Bailey they would not stop him from representing them, but would simply insist that he follow the same rules that apply to every other employee.
Well, that seems… reasonable. Maybe this whole thing wasn’t as simple as a stupid evil basketball team telling their biggest fan to hit the bricks. No matter how much success the Clippers have this season and beyond, as long as Donald Sterling is involved they’re going to be fighting an uphill battle against public perception.
I’d also like to point out this wristband that is for sale on Clipper Darrell’s website. His name is spelled out in the familiar Walt Disney font and includes that iconic Disney D. It’s only 99-cents, but I have a feeling that Mickey’s lawyers aren’t aware of this. It seems minor, but it’s a public example of Darrell Bailey not paying any mind to what he actually has the legal right to profit from. Lest no one forget him if he goes away, there’s no law that says he can’t wear a gaudy red and blue suit to court.
None of this is to say that Bailey and the Clippers haven’t both benefited from their relationship. Bailey got free tickets and got famous. The Clippers had something notable going on in their building while the team had one winning season in nearly two decades. Clipper Darrell was an attraction and he could be again if the two parties can find a way to make this work. They have a history together. It just appears there’s not much history of either party doing what’s right.