When people learned the Clippers had asked their most notable fan, Darrell Bailey, to drop “Clipper” from his nickname, there was a great deal of outrage. We felt the Clippers were cutting down one of their greatest supporters because now that they’re winning and successful, they feel they can speak out. The Clippers issued a statement accusing Darrell of not actually being a fan of the the team, “but a fan of what he can make off of the Clippers.” Their position was defended much better in an LA Times piece by Bill Plaschke.
Plaschke depicts Darrell as a guy trying to profit off the Clippers and says the team offered him a chance to be paid and treated like an official team cheerleader. The team wants to control what he gets paid, the appearances he makes, and what he says about the team, because they feel he is profiting off of them.
There is some merit to their argument, and they have a right to ask him to go by Darrell Bailey rather than “Clipper Darrell.” But I don’t believe they have a right to control his messages about the team and the money he makes.
Darrell has become well known because he is a great hype guy. Whether he was a fan of the Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, or Celtics is inconsequential — people love him because he makes games exciting. He acquired the “Clipper Darrell” name out of association. You need a nickname for “the guy at the Clippers games with the funny suit who’s always yelling,” so he became Clipper Darrell.
If people want him to attend their wedding, Bar Mitzvah, or game, it’s because he makes events exciting. He became known through the Clippers, but not because of them.