If there is any team that has been disregarded and disrespected more in the history of professional sports, please let me know. The Clippers are like the forgotten step-child, and even that analogy is generous. In cities where there are two teams, there are at least other fans to talk with. The White Sox and Cubs often hate each other and the only reconciliation each got with their playoff exit was that the other team left also.
The Mets and Yankees have a distinct rivalry that is not at the point of intensity, but it's still something that many fans will argue over in New York. In the NFL, the Giants and Jets are the best analogy because they share the same stadium. However, at a home game when they play each other, the fans are often 50-50. Go to a Clippers/Lakers game and it is easily 95 percent or more Lakers fans or Laker haters. There are no Clippers fans to be seen for rows and rows.
The world never has been kind to the Clippers. Type in Clippers onto Google search engine and Clippers baseball provides 2 million hits. Likewise, LA Clipper Basketball gets 300,000. Every sports franchise has the celebrity fan that everyone loves and expects to see at most games. This is probably the best representation of the fans at Clippers games. All joking aside, the Lakers have Denzel Washington and Jack Nicholson while the Clippers have Frankie Muniz and Billy Crystal.
The Clippers have never been taken seriously either. Here is an excerpt from a Sports Illustrated article that possibly explains it all.
Among franchises in the four major professional sports, the Clippers are the most inept ever.... There's got to be meaning to a failure of such immensity. So, consider this: The Clippers must lose so we can be reminded that there isn't always a light at the end of the tunnel, there isn't necessarily redemption and there might not be a next year. -- SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, April 17, 2000
To be a Clippers fan is to never have hope in the team. It is to always believe in the team that will never win. This past offseason is the best example of what a Clippers fan generally goes through. Something exciting happens and the team is looking up. Then God smites the Clippers for something. I think it was the move from Buffalo. So take warning Buffalo Bills: DO NOT LEAVE!
I mean last year Elton Brand was hurt all year after big expectations for the upcoming year. This year Baron Davis signs and the Clippers catapult into a playoff team automatically it seemed. Then Brand inexplicably left and now the Clippers are going to be on the outside looking in this upcoming season.
There is a lot to like about the team but with only five players returning from last year, expectations need to be tampered. But, even after this season, I will get excited for the next season until something else goes wrong.
Clippers fans, I know you are out there! I walk around LA in my Clippers hat and like a secret society, some random person will talk to me about the team. It is a secret club that I am a part of. No one knows who is an actual member, but when you see another person with Clippers gear on you cannot help but get excited.
Possibly the worst thing about being a Clippers fan is that when the team does do good one of these years and makes a deep playoff run, fans will come out and join the bandwagon. And because no one is an apparent Clipper fan, I will be accused of being a bandwagon fan. Random people will see me and assume there is no way I could have been a fan until they began winning.
This is seen with other franchises in sports, most notably the Pirates. Years of failure often leads to reduced fandom. The difference between the Pirates and Clippers is that the Pirates were at least good at one time and have won a Championship.
The Clippers have, arguably, never been good. Sure, they have a few winning seasons and even a playoff series win here in Los Angeles, but they have never had actual success. Years of draft busts and failures at coaching have ruined the credibility of the franchise and left fans in shambles.
As a Clippers fan, I offer hopelessness for those who want their dreams crushed. But the day will come when the Clippers will be relevant once more. I know I have pledged to the Clippers and so has this guy. The day will come when the Clippers are actually good and not just a "sleeper" pick that did not pan out. Will you be a band-wagon fan? Or will I see you in the street boldly proclaiming your eternal fanship to the Clipper Nation?