The timely adventures of Andy Rooney's best son

I'm watching this Suns/Clippers game sail away on the soft feathers of enthrallment, and suddenly it hit me: while I'm indifferent to most of Round 2, the Clippers bandwagon just disgusts me. The revelation of the Clippers as the White Sox of the NBA, the rag-tag upstarts making moves in the nation's most hallowed basketball city, is nothing new. Let me take you back to a time when love ruled all, when a still-smoldering Vick Mackey attempted, on a hunch, to bribe a black cop with Clippers tickets. All of you now sweating your seats over the heady symbolic cramp that is Cassell and Co., I invite you to stare deep into the eye sockets of an long-forgotten ornament, to silently behold

Look, I know that the Clip Show, as we called it back then, never made the playoffs. That instead of being constructed around Elton Brand's good sense, it sometimes threatened to permanently deposit him out by the margins. I'll even concede that between Cassell's crotchety-ass fakes and Livingston's ability to make "point guard" appear like a raw, natural gift, we might be on the verge of seeing the NBA serpent chew off its own rattler. But don't ever, ever act like this Clipper momentum is building something from scratch, at least as far as pride and concatenated identity are concerned. This is grunge, The Chronic, Eddie Murphy, and Starbucks rolled into one—a valuable contribution, in many ways a superior one, but derivative in matters of the spirit. This double-overtime thriller won't let me sleep, and "Clippers in the Conference Finals" only burns until you remember what that team's done all year. If you're talking alternative civic consciousness, though, fuck this success. This bout came before the squeals came easy, before the Simmons, before the "is it really real?" compulsion.

If Clipper Nation means what it thinks it does, this is grassroots, underground bubbling up, type shit. And anyone with a respect for this process, which got them where they are today, needs to recognize for all eternity the glow that surrounded a certain star-crossed season of blood-strewn potential. History teaches us many things, so perhaps we could ask these newly energized fans to remember: Israel, she never turned her back on the European experience.


At 5/17/2006 3:06 AM, Anonymous Memory Jones said...

I've been thinking of that Slam cover for the past month -- ever since Odom started to finally bring himself around for the Lakers. Is there hope for Miles? He's even more Tim Thomas than TT himself.

Thinking about the coulda been is just sleepless nights, though, and dyspepsia. I'm sure the Bulls wonder, even after taking Miami to six, what Brand might have done for them had they been blinded by the false light of Eddy Curry's bum heart.

The story of the league is always about finding a time and place -- capturing those elusive moments and appreciating them. The bane of the fans is the waiting for one magical season instead of being able to live in the ebb and flow.

At 5/17/2006 3:33 AM, Blogger emynd said...


This bandwagon disgust you have seems predicated on an awareness of fairly recent history. But, this Clippers bandwagoning is, in reality, only based on ONE historical fact: the Clippers usually suck.

In other words, the bandwagoning is just good ol' (annoying) American underdog appreciation, but that fact alone has made this series an extremely watchable one.

And now for something completely different... It disgusted me how pissed of Cassell got at Daniel Ewing for not fouling Raja Bell before that 3 that tied it in the first OT. That shit wasn't Ewing's fault. If he went for a foul, Bell would've almost definitely been granted three free throws and everyone would've been calling Ewing an idiot. That was just a stupid substitution by Dunleavy. It's the fucking play-offs for god's sake. Don't overthink the shit.


At 5/17/2006 3:35 AM, Blogger emynd said...

On second reading, I just don't think I understand a word of your post and thus my comment is pointless.


At 5/17/2006 7:11 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...

From my post tonight following Game Five:

I realize there's comfort and even an allure in framing losses like these in the absurdities of sports mythology, that it's easy to attribute dramatic failures like tonight's Game Five loss to cheap shit like curses and goats and bad trades and the historic burden of loserdom.

But basketball games are won and lost by players, teams, execution and precision - not by embroidered laundry or religious superstition or the absence of mystique or any crap like that. Call me an empirical twat, but, hey, that's just me.

At 5/17/2006 7:14 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...

uuuhhhrrrr....I guess it warrants mentioning the above was plucked from clipperblog.com -- fan of freedarko. I mean, we wear your shit Chavez Ravine.

At 5/17/2006 9:25 AM, Anonymous Aaron said...

I don't know where to start ripping apart your basketball point, so I'll stick to "Israel, she never turned her back on the European experience," and challenge that one.

Um... you live in America? You've spoken to American Jews? How many of them actually even know the word 'shtetl"? Half? Less than that? How many of your Jewish friends know yiddish beyond shmuck? How many know when Yom HaShoah is?

To bring it back to basketball, assimilation is equivalent to forgetting basketball history. To the diehards, it's unforgivable. To the majority, they just can't understand why the diehards live in the past so much.

At 5/17/2006 10:16 AM, Blogger Mirabeau Lamar said...


Your disgust with team basketball and with success in the playoffs is becoming somewhat insufferable. The Clippers "bandwagon" is made up of both diehard fans and casual observers who enjoy the underdog narrative and are inclined to root for the perennial loser. The Clips are a unique franchise, who have for two decades lived in the shadow of greatness of one of the most successful franchises in pro sports. The White Sox/Cubs comparison is bunk, since both franchises were losers for a century, and they never meet in the regular season (at least before interleague play). There is no parallel for the LAC franchise woes.

FD's overemphasis on non-actualized potential, overlooked talent and individual style often betrays some good drama when actual overlooked teams begin to overachieve in spite of their albatross of franchise history. Individual Clips meet the criteria for FD approval, but since they function well as a team and are enjoying moderate success without a potential GOAT player on the roster, they are immediately dismissed.

At 5/17/2006 10:18 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

dear all,

this post was partly prompted by the opening of kevin's piece for slate. it was not really, as is so usually the case around here, a "basketball point."

if the clippers now represents some sort of viable alternative to the lakers, a hip one (kevin's said this, too), then people really need to think back to the odom/brand/miles team, when this same thing was happending in an edgier way that probably laid the groundwork for this current appeal. yes, the winning helps, but an underdog has to have personality, some mystique, even some history. and i firmly believe that this current craze owes something to the early-century sqauds, failed as they were.

WV: nssglmyi


At 5/17/2006 10:23 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


my response for these touchy intra-cultural questions:

Um... you live in America? You've spoken to American Jews? How many of them actually even know the word 'shtetl"? Half? Less than that? How many of your Jewish friends know yiddish beyond shmuck? How many know when Yom HaShoah is?

I didn't mean "Israel" as in "our people." I meant the country. Israel is arguably a "stronger" manifestation of Jewish presence on earth (physically, materially, economically, culturally, etc.) than American Jewry, but nonetheless has more ties with the memory of Europe, the shtetl., all that.

To bring it back to basketball, assimilation is equivalent to forgetting basketball history. To the diehards, it's unforgivable. To the majority, they just can't understand why the diehards live in the past so much.

that is the problem for the ages, now isn't it?

the question is whether you can even think about israelis as "assimilated."

At 5/17/2006 10:27 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

and ml, i'm not disgusted by the team game, just not moved by it. i watch most of these contests, and it's not like i spend the whole time wishing they were something else; last night's game was what it was.

but i've said in the past that this blog might be a regular season beast, of only negligible value now. i myself can only write what i see and care about. . .

At 5/17/2006 10:37 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

let me clarify one more thing: the second piece of kevin's that i linked to points out the importance of the earlier teams. and he, like me, seems to think there is some sort of lineage, or history, to this idea of clippers as having "cred," albeit one that only stretches back five years.

what galls me is the idea that people are into this idea without having properly observed its beginnings. that's all. hence all the really obvious pop culture references.

At 5/17/2006 10:58 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

lastly, the media is full of people who bitch redundantly throughout the regular season and then turn into doe-eyed goblins for the playoffs. is it so implausible that freedarko just might be the inverse of that?

At 5/17/2006 11:58 AM, Blogger T. said...

To talk about the playoff Clippers and not even make even the smallest reference to the Larry Brown/Ron Harper/Mark Jackson/Charles Smith/Danny Manning/Kenny "The Snake" Norman/Gary Grant teams of the early 90s - well, that's a miss. Ask any Clippers fan, and THAT's the team they hold in their memories. Any collective memories go back to that team - they were the annoited ones. And yet, it all fell apart so soon.

(Yes, I'm a sports bigamist. But I have a soft spot for the Clips - I grew up watching Quintin Daly, Mike Woodson, Michael Cage, Benoit Benjamin - because it was difficult and expensive to buy Lakers tickets - so we'd end up going to 8-10 Clipper games a year throughout the Lakers run. And then, I became fans of both teams. Er, and now am a Rockets fan.)

At 5/17/2006 12:02 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

seconding what emynd said, and

yes, the winning helps, but an underdog has to have personality, some mystique, even some history. and i firmly believe that this current craze owes something to the early-century sqauds, failed as they were

Did you not receive your Elton Brand bobblehead in throw-back Buffalo Braves uniform?

At 5/17/2006 12:09 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

speaking of bobbleheads, the reason T. has been loudly urging me to check my mailbox these last few weeks has been that he, out of the kindness of his franchise-funded heart, opted to hit me off with an arenas bobblehead. however, it appears that it was stolen by a cracked-out streetwalker who attempts to work my block because of the nearby drug spot. note: i live in they gayest hood in texas.

so while i'm sure everyone likes the idea of me sitting up late at night, staring hamlet-like into arenas's plastic eyes while tim duncan does something on tv, picture this: WHITE STREET WALKING CRACK WHORE WITH BAND-AIDS ON HER DENIM SKIRT TRYING TO TRADE SAID BOBBLEHEAD FOR ROCKS.

now back to basketball.

interesting political tip from WV: dropvpp.

VPP? vice-president pussy? are they saying that the vice-president of freedarko is a pussy and should be dropped? that the vice-president is getting some from a lady he should drop? i have no idea who the vp is, btw.

At 5/17/2006 12:57 PM, Anonymous johnny5 said...

Bandwagoning: WTF is Nicholson doing there? Just to hang out with Crystal, or is he a civic cheerleader? I remember seeing him at a Yankees game and the TV announcer commented that Jack sure has good taste in his teams... guess to be a winner, you gotta root for a winner.

emynd, Cassell is as Cassell does... and that involves a lot of jawing. Let a guy hitting 88% in these playoffs make three free tosses (or worse, one after a make) - math says that's a 68% chance - or take a contested three? Yeah, I'd let him attempt the tough shot.

At 5/17/2006 1:19 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

Bandwagonism is too prevalent and sad a part of the American Sports Phenomenon for to give it more than a passing thought.

But that early 2000's Clip team with some of its recent additions would have been sublime, even in failure. I'm not yet tired of the FD celebration of what might have been.

That said, one might well ask whether Israel should have turned its back on aspects of its European heritage--or at least that part of it that is Europe's somewhat dark secret: most of the country's, prior to post-colonial immigration, were largely mono-ethnic and sectarian.


At 5/17/2006 4:49 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

i like the idea that the Israel line refers to LAC's denial of its own colonial history. as in, "the land without a people for a people without land", and D-Miles = the Palestinians.


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