Clippers Fans Spoke Their Mind at Steve Ballmer Pep Rally


Last Monday’s rally at Staples Center for local Clipper fans was announced on the preceding Friday, just after the sale of the franchise was completed. When I heard about the rally, I thought it would be a great opportunity to sample the collective thinking of Clipper fans about the team and its immediate future. With that in mind, I created a six-question survey that I hoped could achieve those results.

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Ostensibly, the purpose of the Monday afternoon rally was to formally introduce Clipper fans to the new owner, and vice-versa. On the day of the rally, the large crowd at Staples Center seemed upbeat and eager to cast their seal of approval, as they moved through the main entrance and into the arena.

While observing the mass of red T-shirts, it dawned on me that I was actually about to witness the biggest, most-positive moment in Los Angeles Clipper’s history. After all, having adopted the (team) back in 1984, when they first moved to Los Angeles, I can easily recall at least ten embarrassing moments for every one positive memory. This notion gave me an odd feeling of relief , because the idiot-franchise that I had supported all those years was finally poised to dominate L. A. hoops after thirty years of either posturing, or sitting on the sidelines. For the record, my unfailing and unshakable support for them during their first 10 years in Los Angeles, had nothing to do with my access to free Clippers tickets…

Due to heavy press coverage, most L. A. hoop fans should now know that Mr. Ballmer is a natural cheerleader. Of course, if you were to listen to some of the talking magpies at the flagship radio station of our other NBA team, he’s simply Chris Farley reincarnated. In any event, as he high-fived and fist-bumped his way up to the stage, the crowd roared their approval, and the only thing missing was the theme song from ‘Rocky’.

Without rehashing his segment, in my opinion, Mr. Ballmer made a great first impression. He was high-energy, and definitely spot-on about the team’s championship potential. Going forward, he must embrace with similar enthusiasm, the conundrum of [maintaining] a championship-caliber organization, something his predecessor never seemed to understand, until it was thirty years too late.

Now, about that survey, a random sample of more than fifty Clipper fans were asked six questions about the team. Breakdowns of their responses follow each question:

1: How long have you been a Clipper fan?

1-5 years              52%                       6-10 years           15%

11-15 years          12%                       16-20 years         10%

21-25 years           2%                        26-30 years          6%

> 30 years             4%

2: How did you become a Los Angeles Clippers fan?

Adopted the team                                                   27%

Family                                                                       19%

Free tickets                                                               15%

Friend                                                                       13%

San Diego Native                                                     4%

Hate Lakers                                                              8%

O. G. Fan                                                                   4%

Got hooked After watching Live Game             8%

3: How many wins will the Clippers have next regular season?

45-50                     2%                          51-55                     15%

56-60                   46%                          61-65                    29%

66-70                    8%

4: Will they win a championship next season?

YES         73%                        NO         27%

5: Who’s your favorite current Clipper player?

Blake Griffin                        52%

Chris Paul                            29%

DeAndre Jordan                12%

Matt Barnes                          6%

Jamal Crawford                   2%

6: What else do the Clippers need to win a ring next season?

Stronger Bench                  17%

Key Big Man                       21%

Better Defense                    13%

Go-To Scorer                           2%

Kobe Bryant                         2%

Nothing                               44%

The responses here paint an interesting picture of the Clipper’s fan base. For example, in question No. 1, a whopping 52 percent of all respondents became Clipper fans in the last five years. Assuming negligible attrition during this time, the data suggests an annual (new fan) growth rate of more than 15%, which is phenomenal, consider DTS was still the owner. Clearly, this seemingly skewed figure corresponds with the start of the Blake Griffin era, that began in 2009, when the Clippers drafted him No. 1 overall. The notion that Griffin is the catalyst for this jump  is reinforced by the responses to question five, where again, 52 percent of all respondents chose Griffin as their favorite current Clipper.

Sticking with this same question, but sampling only those who became fans during the Griffin era, 52 percent of them (coincidentally), said Griffin was their favorite player. Of course, the other dominant factors are that during this period, the team won a lot more games, and improved the roster throughout.

Since the goal of this survey was simply to get a read on what Clipper fans think, lets look at the most popular responses to each questions:

  • 52 percent of those polled became fans in the last 5 years.
  • 27 percent simply adopted the team.
  • 46 percent think the Clips will win 56 to 60 regular season games next season.
  • 73 percent think the Clips will win a championship ring next season.
  • 52 percent tag Blake Griffin as their favorite current Clipper player.
  • 44 percent think the Clips don’t need to make any further changes to their roster.

In other words, most of those polled are relatively new Clipper fans, who voluntarily adopted the team and expect them to win about 60 games (and a championship ring next season), with Blake Griffin as the MVP.  All this, while doing absolutely nothing else to improve the team between now and then.

So, Clipper Nation, now that we understand each other better, here’s a word to the wise:

‘As you view it,

be sure to sort through it.

And before you take it,

contemplate it.’

The point here is simply that the increase in new Clipper fans happened because the team is winning, and because they’ve positioned themselves for long-term success in the western Conference. Although fan expectations of championship success next season are reasonable, history says it probably won’t happen on this timetable. Still, as long as the team continues to shine, most of these fans will stay loyal, and if the Clippers actually win a title next year, that marriage will last a long time.

For O. G.’s like myself, this means that everything will f-i-n-a-l-l-y be copacetic.

We want to know how you became a Clippers fan, so let us know in the poll below.