Yesterday the Los Angeles Clippers held a conference introducing interim CEO Richard Parsons to the media. Despite little popularity amongst fans, the change from Andy Roeser to Parsons represented change. A much-needed change as the Clippers are attempting to alter the perception of the franchise in front of the world’s eyes.
No longer do the Clippers want to be connected to Donald Sterling though, for some, that’ll be a hard task to separate the two. As a casual fan of the NBA you often aren’t overly familiar with anybody past the head coach. This means front office executives and NBA owners go unnoticed unless you’re Michael Jordan or a former NBA player/coach who thrived and worked his way up. They weren’t familiar with Donald Sterling. At least one month ago they weren’t, but now they are, rather they’re making fun of he and his racist overtones via memes or paying close attention to how the NBA will handle the matter, a matter they ignored years and years ago.
With Richard Parsons, he hopes to be the forefront for that change and thinks that, by removing Sterling completely from the franchise, the Clippers can become America’s team.
“I think the Clippers will become America’s team if we get this right.”
Parsons’ intent here is a good sign. e’s looking to the future at how the team will look once out of the shadows of racism and public embarrassment. But regardless of how the NBA handles the Sterling situation, there’s little to no chance the Clippers become America’s team.
What Parsons is thinking of feels as if it’s the main story line to the fairy tale basketball story we’d all watch. After all, this, the Sterling situation, does sound like something your favorite director would write up.
The team plays well.
A situation happens that brings a lot of negativity to the team, throwing their direction off as they hope to achieve for something else.
That situation is expunged.
Everyone wishes for a happy ending, falling for the team in the process.
While it sounds good, those odds aren’t one I’d bet my life savings on.
For one, the Clippers have to fight the good fight with the most popular team in the NBA. Even in a season where they were the superiors team by far, Los Angeles was still a Lakers town. Tumultuous is the word I’d use to describe the Lakers 2013-14. They tanked. They entertained. They were embarrassed on national television. There was drama. Faith was lost as the picture looked bleak going forward with each lose piling on. The future looked bright as each lost piled up, pulling the Lakers closer and closer to a coveted draft pick filled with the most talent since the 2008 NBA Draft that featured the likes of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert and other top players in the first round draft.
And through all that, their bad out-shined the Clippers good, one that featured their best season in franchise history, the leap to superstardom from Blake Griffin, the evolution of DeAndre Jordan, and another sound year from Chris Paul.
On top of that, the Clippers are filled with players that aren’t generally loved by the casual fan base. Best point guard in the world? Heavily disliked. Arguable the best power forward in the world? Same thing applies. Despite their talent, Griffin and Paul are known to agitate fans with their flopping style. They aren’t the first players to flop. Kevin Durant often flops on offense. Lebron James often flops on defense. Manu Ginobili has made a living out of flopping. But when those two do it, it hits deep with fans who already dislike them. It’s a weird feeling as the Clippers are one of the most entertaining teams in the league, razzling and dazzling with their up-and-down style of play that often results in dunks, alley-oops in three-pointers.
One will point to the Dallas Cowboys still being “America’s team” as they go unlikes throughout the NFL fan bases, but the Cowboys did something the Clippers have never done or been close to doing: winning championships. The Cowboys run in the 1990s still holds weight today. The same could be said about the Los Angeles Lakers who haven’t sniffed a championship since the 2010 season. This allows fans who remain around to have something to hold on when things get rough. In the Clippers case this could mean losing fans to a superior fan base, often the one next door.
Parsons’ intent is pure. He sees the good in what will come once the Sterling situation comes to an end, whenever that will be, but being America’s team shouldn’t be the Clippers goal. Not only is it unattainable, but it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Being America’s team doesn’t automatically mean you win championships. The Cowboys can attest to that as their playoff drought rivals that of the Detroit Lions since he 90s. Being America’s team doesn’t mean automatic championship contention, the Lakers can attest to that as the last two seasons have been less than ideal, flailing under expectations and displaying to fans a feeling that hasn’t been evident since the 90s.
At the end of the day, there is going to be a group of people that root for the Clippers because what Donald Sterling did was ugly, disgusting, and repugnant. But it’s not going to add fans. There’s no sympathy in the playoffs. If the Clippers want to be get a head start on becoming America’s team, ripping off a run of championships would be a good start. Other than that, they’ll still be the Clippers, always second best even when being the best. And considering how the franchise has changed over the past years and what they’ve come from, that’s enough for right now.