Brian Cullen pens a letter to Clipper Nation. Don’t freak out.
No…freak out. That’s ok, it’s normal; your feelings are valid. But don’t give up. This is all part of the rollercoaster. I know there’s a lot of you out there that might be newer to Clipper Nation. Things got pretty exciting there for a while; this bottomed out franchise got a rookie, Blake Griffin, that could dunk so hard you could almost see the rim flinch. Shortly after that, one of the best point guards we’ve ever seen was traded to the team in one of the most bizarre turn of events in the leagues history (I still light a candle for David Stern on All Saints Day for giving us Chris Paul). Just like that the Clippers were amazing, and at times seemingly invincible.
If you jumped on during that time, THAT’S OK. We’re happy to have you! I only ask that you don’t let a slight bump in the road knock you off the wagon. Times like these are what make Clippers fans, Clippers fans. We’re this oddball group of tortured, emotionally masochistic souls that just keep coming back. It makes us special.
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When I was 5 years old a couple guys named Doc Rivers, Ron Harper, and Danny Manning took the Los Angeles Clippers to the playoffs for the first time in the team’s history (excluding, obviously, the Buffalo Braves). It was exciting, LA was abuzz, and I was hooked. What followed was 25 years of gut-wrenching heartbreak over, and over, and over. And you know what? I WOULDN’T TRADE IT FOR THE WORLD. Following a franchise that, at times, seemed hell-bent on being unbearable forced me to watch the entire league. Let’s be real, if I had only watched the Clippers that whole time I’d be stuck in a room with padded walls. But I now have a much broader appreciation for the league and the game of basketball as a whole. That appreciation only strengthened my love for my team.
The point is this: losing sucks. Like, really really sucks. It’s painful and anxiety inducing and ridiculous, and most of all, hard to explain to people who aren’t invested. But that pain is ours. And when we FINALLY win? Oh man, it makes the elation so much sweeter. But sticking through the tough times is the only thing that makes the wins really mean something. Could you imagine if Capt. Jean-Luc Picard had impressed the Q Continuum in episode one of The Next Generation (that’s right, folks, stay woke)? Or if Pam and Jim had gotten together in season one? That’s boring. We’re not boring.
We are a family that gets tighter with every loss. When you’re out in public and you see someone else with a Clippers hat, jersey, shirt, etc. you almost can’t help but stop and talk to them. You get to share scars as well as victories. It’s easy to put a flag on your car during the playoffs or a championship run, but character is built when you wave that flag during a losing streak and loving your team unabashedly.
So wave those flags. In this current losing streak wear your blue and red proudly. Every time Austin jab steps exactly one thousand times and then misses a lay up, defend him just like you did when he put up 21 points with eleven stitches in his eye. Because THAT’S OUR GUY. Whether DJ puts up 20 and 20 or 5 and 2, love the big fella because THAT’S OUR GUY.
Despite whatever is happening, the darkest days are behind us. We could be starless and irrelevant with an owner that’s barely even human. We could be drafting Lorenzen Wright over Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash again. We have a passionate owner with deep pockets. We have a superstar in Blake Griffin. We have two very exciting rookies. We have hope. We have each other.
We have the Clippers.