Clipper pride

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

FBI detectives strive to understand the inner workings of serial killers’ brains. Scientists would rejoice at the chance to see the world from inside the mind of Stephen Hawking. I’d like to get into the head of a Clippers fan.

As residents of L.A., people are given a choice: They can opt for the road to glory with the Lakers, or they can choose the path leading to inevitable despair with the Clippers. Most people think the choice is obvious. Why root for a team hell-bent on sabotaging itself when you can have the glitz and glamour of NBA showtime?

But, apparently, Clippers fans do exist. But their demographic (not including Billy Crystal and Frankie Muniz) remains a mystery. All I’ve gathered about the mysterious bunch is that they’re extremely loyal, full of unconditional love and probably less well-to-do than the fans of their fellow Staples Center inhabitants. Courtside Lakers tickets cost nearly three times as much as the same seats in the same building when the Clippers are playing.

So, just who are these Clippers fans? Are they the willing martyrs of professional sports? Are they masochists? Are they simply the type of fans who pull for the underdog? Did they, one day long ago, as naive children, vow to stick by the Clippers and now there’s no escape?

How draining it must be to root for the Clippers! What a valiant soul it must take! Anyone who has had Clippers season tickets for 10 or more years should be sainted because they have stared into the bleakest abyss and yet keep coming back 41 times a year to offer support to their lackluster, yet beloved, Clips.

Jack Nicholson is famous for his loyalty to the Lakers. Please. How hard is it to root for the Lakers? Sure, they have their unpleasant seasons, but would Jack still be there after zero playoff series wins in three decades and 14-straight losing seasons?

Teams at every level and in every league go through slumps, although they usually bounce back. Take the 1995-1996 San Antonio Spurs. David Robinson, who was the returning MVP, was injured early in the season. He played in only six games, and without their future Hall of Famer, the Spurs posted the third-worst record in the league and won the NBA Draft Lottery where Tim Duncan fell magically into their laps. Robinson came back the following season and San Antonio suddenly had the league’s best frontcourt. Two years later, they won their first title.

Clearly that was one of the luckiest series of events in recent sports history, but it illustrates that the league tries to keep teams from rotting away in the NBA’s basement for too long. Somehow, however, the Clippers have managed to foil the very system designed to lift them from the gutter. In the past 10 years, the Clippers have had the following overall draft picks: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, two No. 4s, No. 6, No. 7 and No. 10. Yet even with the most promising incoming college players on their roster, they have found ways to screw up their many chances for betterment.

The Clippers have even become an often-used metaphor for failure. If a friend tells you that his bowling team is “the Clippers of the bowling league,” you know exactly what he means. Suddenly your mind is filled with visions of gutter balls and squandered opportunities.

But has their day finally come? After all, they’re in the second round of the playoffs and a mere two wins away from the third round. That’s the closest they’ve ever come to even a whiff of NBA glory.

Die-hards have wept too many tears to count. But wipe your eyes and stand tall, Clippers fans: The time has finally come to reap your harvest. Come forth from every corner of the earth and rejoice because, at last, your moment has arrived. The Staples Center is yours alone. The purple seats and championship banners in the rafters may argue otherwise, but what matters most is what’s on the court.

You’ll probably want to hurry, though, because your team won’t even get past Phoenix. I mean, it is the Clippers we’re talking about here.