Watch the video above. It's a documentary done by Bleacher Report as part of series highlighting different aspects of sports. This one being the Los Angeles Clippers most famous fan, Darrell Bailey. But you don't know who Darrell Bailey is. You know Clipper Darrell.
Here's the cliffnotes of what's happened in the past week: Clipper Darrell put up a blog post saying he was "DEVASTATED!!!" that the organization had told him to drop the Clipper off his name. The organization responded with an oddly attacking statement saying Clipper Darrell really was never a fan in the first place, just a money hungry enterpriser trying to make a buck off the team.
It's one of those things that's hard ot understand unless you're involved with the Clipper organization or are Clipper Darrell. There are probably a lot of details, a lot of information we are privy to that would help it all make sense. But when Darrell put up his blog post, the backlash was swift. The Clippers had another black eye. Reason being the organization has a spotty past, especially with owner Donald Sterling. And it would be very much like the team and owner to alienate their most loyal, most famous fan when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are owning Lob City and have the NBA buzzing.
But then again, after reading Bill Plaschke's column in the L.A. Times, maybe it was the other way around.
"We love him in the arena, fans love him in the arena, everybody loves his energy and his passion," said Carl Lahr, longtime Clippers vice president of marketing and sales.And then shortly after Bailey went public with what happened, the documentary footage surfaced and he had the Internet buzzing about his plight. But could it all have been some brilliant plan to make a buck off the organization in a backwards way? If he wasn't succeeding by being their unofficial mascot, maybe he decided to go a different route and get people talking the other way? Could it be?
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.
"Like any company, we would need control over him and his message," Lahr said. "He is using our name and our colors, and we would like control over how that is done."
Bailey, who did not return phone calls for this story, reportedly felt like this attempt at control was too stifling. So last week in a phone call with Lahr, he offered to stop being Clipper Darrell. Lahr told him that might be a good idea, but that he should think about it. Bailey never phoned back, and then Wednesday afternoon issued the statement on his website, stunning a Clippers organization that thought he was being treated fairly.
"Somewhere along the line, he stopped being a super fan and became a marketer," Lahr said. "He got to the point where he wanted this to be a commercial enterprise."
The Clippers say they actually offered their cheerleader a chance to be treated exactly like a Clippers cheerleader, with a $70 nightly salary but no unsanctioned interviews or appearances, and he refused.
"He's a really good person, but he told us he's in this to make money," Lahr said. "Once that happens, that changes the whole fan dynamic."
Consider this: The Clippers have given Bailey a free ticket for years, and even kept it up when a Clipper ticket turned nearly hot as a Laker one. And it's not a bad seat. It's a lower bowl ticket that's worth a fair pricetag. Say what you will about Sterling, but it's not like the organization is straight stupid. They know how it wouid look if they dumped Darrell. Why do you think they've kept him around and seemed to bend over backwards for him for so long?
I'll admit it. When Darrell's post went up, I was one of many that reacted with disgust toward the Clippers. It reeked of being a very Clipper move. Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul all tweeted support for Darrell. And then a funny thing happened: Griffin and Jordan deleted their tweets. Maybe they got a little more to the story themselves. We might have all gotten ahead of ourselves here.
Maybe the most damning piece of evidence in the column is that Bailey reportedly flew to Dallas to meet with Mark Cuban about becoming their new superfan. It was Cuban's offer, but it definitely lines up with the idea that Darrell isn't simply just a lover of Clipper basketball. But maybe a lover of Clipper Darrell and what he can get out being that.