Clippers ask long-time fan Clipper Darrell to stop using that name

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This is about brand image and money getting in the way of passion. It’s about misguided loyalty. It’s about the Clippers still being the Clippers.

You know Darrell Baily as Clipper Darrell — the most passionate, long-time fan the Clippers have ever had. The guy with the blue-and-red suit (and car to match). He was the face of the Clippers fans and was there when this team sucked for years. He had better presence and higher positive feelings among fans than the team.

Truth be told, Clipper management never really loved him — they saw him as loudmouth, an embarrassment, a guy out for himself. But they never really did much about it.

Until the last few weeks. Here is the most unbiased account of what happened, via Fishbowl L.A.

Carl Lahr, senior vice president of marketing and sales, eventually returned Bailey’s call last week and informed him that the organization didn’t need him doing stories or speaking to the media on behalf of the team.

“We got to talking and I said the way I feel, you don’t want Clipper Darrell no more,” Bailey told FishbowlLA Wednesday. “You want Darrell Bailey back. They said, ‘You would do that?’”

According to Bailey, the Clippers offered him an additional free season ticket if he dropped the Clipper nickname.

I spoke briefly with Baily Wednesday night but he did not want to go on the record about this right now. Suffice to say the issue is not over.

Here is what Baily said on his Web Site.

It is with great sadness that I must report to all those in NBA NATION that I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell, a name that was given to me by the media because of my unwavering support and team spirit. I am devastated!!!!

I have been a season ticket holder for over a decade and a FAN for over 15 years and have dedicated a major part of my life to support the Clipper organization and it’s players no matter what the season’s outcome.…. I’ve taken seriously the mantra of being “Clipper Darrell” in performing community service, mentoring young children and my participation in outreach programs. I’ve appreciated the struggles of the team to overcome obstacles as I’ve done in my life.

That last part is where the Clippers say they have an issue. While privately they have told Baily he was an embarrassment, publically they feel he is trying to make money off the now-valuable Clipper name. Here is what they said in a released statement (read the whole thing at the Orange County Register).

“The Clippers have done absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate as it concerns Darrell Bailey. His claims are absurd and unfounded. He has never been an employee or representative of the Clippers organization, and therefore cannot be terminated. The Clippers have never engaged Mr. Bailey’s services. When he has been in need, the organization has regularly provided him a seat for games. No good deed goes unpunished….

“We hold all of our fans in the highest esteem and we have been patient and generous with Mr. Bailey. He has not returned our support in an honorable way. He is not actually a fan of the Clippers, but a fan of what he can make off of the Clippers. We are no longer interested in that kind of association with him, and that is why we accepted his offer to remove our team name from his stage name.”

That didn’t sound petty at all.

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul had tweets up in support of Baily, but they were taken down by Thursday morning.

My two cents — while the Clippers are a very good team on the court, they still show you that they are the old Clippers off it at times.

They didn’t push hard for Baily to stop being the face of the fans until they had a lot of fans and didn’t need him. If you think this is about money for Baily you don’t know him — he has spent far, far more on tickets, on getting clothes made and his car painted, on gas and everything else than he will ever come close to making back on a few T-shirts. The Clippers could have found a way to partner with him, to actually bring him in, but that’s not what they wanted.

Baily was far, far less an embarrassment to the Clipper franchise than the owner has been over the last decade.

Clipper Darrell — which is what he’ll always be to me — started doing this out of passion. A love of the team and passion he provided when they didn’t deserve it from fans, and he stuck with them. If now he can make a few bucks off the persona he created, so what? To block him is petty and small. But it’s vintage old Clippers.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.