Let's Rebrand The Clippers

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Photo: Kevork Djansezian (Getty)

Steve Ballmer said he is open to renaming/rebranding his basketball team, which would be noble if the rest of the sentence read, “because the amoral pig who owned this before me turned the enterprise into a urinal and even shouting like a lunatic and bringing Jerry West and Kawhi Leonard on board doesn’t erase that.”


But we’re pretty sure the language in the sale papers prohibits him from flying that close to the truth out loud, so we’re left thinking how he could change the look and sound of the Los Angeles Clippers while leaving the sight of the team to his basketball ops people. Oh, and to do so without seeming like the worst impulse-control case since Genghis Khan.

Still, uber-billionaires gotta uber-billionaire and you don’t get that kind of jack by being patient, polite or subdued. Ballmer has to wait for completion of his new mega-gymnasium, but he can be as twitchy as he wants on the rest of it, so the time to de-Clipper the Clippers may already be upon us. Sure, it’s fashion for the hell of it because nobody has really complained about the nickname, and the franchise has already burned through two other cities and nine different uniform designs, with each change being more and more generic and less and less interesting, if you’re going to WTF, WTF with energy and verve.

And frankly, as manic as he is, Ballmer looks like he could use the help. With that as our motivation, we present the New Clippers, all dressed up for your entertainment and Nike’s jersey budget.

The Ballmers

He’s got all the money ever printed, so why wouldn’t he give in to the same vanity Paul Brown did in 1946? No reason, of course, so let’s just assume he’d sign off on the idea. Basically, you take Ballmer’s screaming face, which is largely an open mouth with a few things around it, paint it orange, slap some basketball seams on it and meld it with the old Cincinnati Royals logo and you pretty much have it. The uniforms would be baggy polo shirts and what used to be called Richard Nixon walking shorts, also in honor of Ballmer’s normal attire, although in honesty this also brushes up against the Miami Floridians’ original logo. Every basket by the home team would trigger the sound of Ballmer laughing like an unhinged asylum denizen over the PA, which would break the wills of Russian spies, let alone the Charlotte Hornets. In fact, that ritual hell-cackle should be a persistent feature of the in-game experience.

The X

Yes, the X, as in LAX. It’s the only real homage to this monument to urban sprawl that would work, especially since the new arena won’t be that far off the flight path, and L.A. is all about getting in and out of L.A. The uniforms would just have an X, and the team colors would be monochrome (white on white with white trim, or black on black with black trim, or choose your own color). When people complain that they can’t see the numbers and aren’t really sure who’s who, the answer would be, “We are X. You are not meant to know us.” Very indie filmmaker. Also very Kawhi.


The Logos

They have Jerry West on staff. This should be easy.

The Fusions

A hat tip to 83 percent of the restaurants in the county. It would look better as Fusion, sure, but nicknames should be plural unless you have a damned good reason why it shouldn’t. Truthfully, this is lame, but it is Los Angeles. if you’re not flying in or out of town, you’re eating somewhere where the portions are small, the bills are large and the origins are manifold.


The SuperSonics

Yes, steal the old Seattle nickname and then make the inevitable expansion team pay to get it back. Cynical but effective.


The Growlers

Not the Newfoundland minor-league hockey team with the delightful logo, but Doc Rivers’s razor-blade-scraping-concrete voice. Not sure how you make this into a logo, but if you can do Ballmer from the point of view of his own larynx, you can do this.


The Buffaloes

Merely a nod to the team’s true origins, plus it allows a clever graphic artist to create either a dribbling buffalo à la this founding father, this hornet, this bird, and this acorn, or a thunder-dunking buffalo. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a leaping buffalo palming a ball with hooves? Plus, neither the Lakers, Rams nor Dodgers are L.A. originals. If nothing else, this could show Steve that Clippers isn’t all that awful.


Although if he’s hell-bent on change and wants an animal doing something it wouldn’t normally do, there’s this, which is hilarious on its face and needs only some species adjustment.

The Uncle Dennises

I mean, you know he’d ask, right?

The Stivianos

I mean, you know she’d get a lawyer to ask on her behalf, right? Plus, the beekeeper’s hat as a fashion statement would be a grand inside joke for the woman who hastened the end of the Sterling era while dressed like a style-conscious welder. And speaking of which:

The Sterlings

Okay, no. Not under any circumstances. It would be like re-naming the White Sox after Arnold Rothstein, only way worse.


But maybe best and boldest of all . . .

The Lakers

Yeah, I said it. There are few moves as bold as just stealing your rival’s very identity and then just denying that the other organization even exists. Sure, gainsaying every argument with a snide-y “No, you’re not the Lakers, WE’RE the Lakers” will become tedious and then irritating. Jeanie Buss will sue and then Ballmer can say, “Jeanie, you’re worth $500 million, your team is worth $3.7 billion, but I’m worth $52 billion. Let’s throw lawyers at each other until your arms get tired.” It solves the colossal image inequities in the current Los Angeles market, and other than being spectacularly illegal and making Adam Silver cry, the move really has no discernible downside. The possibility of bitter recrimination-fueled chaos is too sweet not to explore.


Glad to help, and I’ll take my consultant’s fee in large unmarked bills, thanks.

Ray Ratto has too much time on his hands and just stole some of yours without any remorse at all.