On Tuesday, superfan Clipper Darrell showed up to the game in mourning, wearing a black suit rather than his customary blue and red. The next day he posted on his website that the Clippers had asked him to stop representing them, and the internet exploded in protest. Because the Clippers have done so many things so very wrong, and because Donald Sterling is a racist scumbag, the narrative was easy: asshole team alienates longtime loyal fan for the sake of a few bucks.
Today the Clippers put their side of the story out there, with LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke as their mouthpiece. This interpretation of events has the Clippers being as accommodating as humanly possible, and paints Darrell Bailey as the money-hungry one. It's important to keep in mind that every single one of these talking points may be true, but it's still a one-sided version, as the only source for Plaschke's story is Carl Lahr, the Clips' VP of marketing and sales.
Lahr says the Clippers have been giving Darrell free lower bowl tickets for years, a value of tens of thousands of dollars. The problem only started when Darrell attempted to make paid public appearances — the sort of thing where he would show up at a store opening or pep rally, as an official representative of the team. Rather than simply tell him to stop, the Clippers say they offered him a deal: become an official Clippers employee (with the same salary as the cheerleaders) and be allowed to make these appearances and extra paychecks, but the team would have the final say in what appearances he could make.
The Clippers say Darrell refused this offer, at one point flying to Dallas to meet Mark Cuban and talk about becoming a Mavericks superfan.
"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."
Last week, chafing at what he perceived to be the Clippers' attempts to control him, Darrell spoke with Lahr on the phone and offered to stop being Clipper Darrell. Lahr told Darrell that might be a good idea, but to think about it. He never heard back, until Darrell went public with his breakup.
So, you know, maybe there's never clear good guys and bad guys in life, and maybe Darrell got too big for his britches, and maybe the Clippers are a soulless corporation that dicked over one of the very few people who stuck with them through dark times. Maybe it's just that everyone's an asshole. It's Los Angeles, so that's not so far-fetched.
Clipper Darrell's betrayal - of the Clippers [Los Angeles Times]