Is anyone else in Erie possibly an L.A. Clippers fan? I know it's a bit of a stretch, but this is the team that was formerly the Buffalo Braves back in the early to mid-1970s. I must have been 10 years old when they moved from Buffalo to San Diego, in some strange deal that also involved the owner of the Boston Celtics. I have about two or three Braves' memories. One involves NBA scoring champ and MVP Bob McAdoo and another a playoff loss (or maybe regular season) to the Celtics. There was also my grandfather teaching me how to say Ernie Digregorio's name. I think we settled on "Ernie D."
I've followed the franchise since it moved out West. Based on his column today, Richard Cohen would probably label me a sucker of the worst kind, but what the heck, it's kind of fun to be a Clippers fan. They're like a mysterious friend or lover from far away who only visits late at night a couple times a year. Because of that, they're always interesting. And being based in L.A. makes them an exotic pleasure for a Buffalo fan. Of course, a couple years ago, SI labeled the franchise the worst in professional sports, so it's not all roses. (They're also probably good tonic for a Yankees' fan.)
My buddy in L.A. took me to a Clippers game a couple weeks ago in a move that started out as a lark, but turned into a bit more than that, as the Clippers have somehow found their way into the playoffs this year for the first time in more than 10 years. The Clippers are actually a hot ticket in LA and last night, they won their second straight playoff game over the Denver Nuggets to take a 2-0 lead in a best of seven series.
The game started at like 10:45, as TNT held it up until the Heat/Bulls game ended. I've never heard of such a scheduling procedure, but, it is the NBA... About 10 p.m., I'm laying in bed, getting ready to sack out when I've overcome with an urge to watch this game. Now, I don't have TNT for reasons just like this. Yup, it gives me an excuse to go out. The choice was walk to Andy's or drive up to Wild Cards. Deciding to embrace suburban sprawl, I hopped in the mini-van and carted myself up to Wild Cards. They put the game on the big screen right in front of me, set me up with a Blue Moon draft on the ice-chilled bar and I was in business. I was sitting there in my orange Shaun Livingston throwback T-shirt (that I got at Staples) and must have been the only person watching the game. It was great. I think the Clippers played the all-time greatest first half in the history of the franchise. They were up 32-13 at the end of the first quarter. And after a brief run by the Nuggets, Cuttino Mobley - a journeyman sharpshooter, nails a half-court, three-pointer to end the half 56-34. I saw Penny Marshall in the crowd cheering.
I went home after that and the Clippers held on easily to win by 12. The whole experience was weird. My main questions regarding it are 1) what energy drove me out of the house to go watch the first half of the game - something I would rarely do? And, 2) was that energy tied in with the same energy that propelled the Clippers to such an amazing half? I would say yes. It's all part of the collective unconscious - And that, Mr. Cohen, is what makes being a fan a bit more than being a sucker.