At the Cleveland game a couple of weeks ago, I dropped $5 for "Gametime," the Official Game Program of the Los Angeles Clippers, not so much for my personal edification[1], but to say that I had. 

Here's Part One of a look inside:

  • Page 1: Full page ad for 2K Sports' NBA2K7, with "Who's Got Next?" written boldly in black letter gothic script, and a sneering Shaq in triplet across the page.  I've never owned a game system for the sole reason that I know I'd stop reading books, never leave the house, and stifle every last ounce of ambition I have left. 

  • Page 2: A full-page ad for AM/PM that features a 2/3-eaten hot dog on top of a cherry-red toolbox with fallen little relish bits dropped on the surface of the toolbox --- an image so unappealing that it offers no allure even to a guy who can chazz[2] about four Dodger Dogs in a single sitting.

  • Page 3:  A full-page ad for Barry's Tickets.  I've never gotten a satisfactory answer to why ticket brokers can sell tickets at any profit, but I once nearly got arrested for trying to unload an extra Braves ticket for under face value outside Fulton County Stadium. In my imagination, these brokerage firms are allowed to exist because they throw tickets to big events to the right political people, but I know that's farfetched. 

  • Page 4-5: Two-page spread focused on a close shot of a Clippers' pre-tip huddle.  Shaun Livingston's braids appear really, really intricate on close examination.  Sam is looking away, but, incredibly, his mouth is shut. To the right are the table of contents. 

  • Page 6: 2006-2007 Staff Directory above a photo of the old [nee, new] ball.  Below is the staff.  The "Home CourtSTAPLES Center (19,060 built in 1999)" line is shifted oddly, but maybe that's intentional.  The roster of Clippers' organizational people is extensive.[3]  The program, we learn in the lower right-hand corner, is published by Professional Sports Publications[4].  It's edited by Seth Burton and Steven Esparza.

  • Page 7: Baywatch Now on DVD!  The ad asks, "Who should be the official Baywatch DVD Babe?" It then sends you to http://www.baywatchondvd.com/.  I think that's whatshername in a read swimsuit in front of a surfboard, can't be sure. 

  • Page 8-10: Ralph Lawler's 20 Questions with Tim Thomas.  Thomas has bad memories of getting hurt at the Palestra[5]; he was plucked out of the hallways of P.S. 24 in Patterson, NJ by a substitute teacher to play competitive basketball; his wife is a Georgetown grad; his mom was a church woman.  Thomas feels that we should consider hustle stats when evaluating his performance on the court.  You know that this isn't going to read like a Gil interview, but as confessional literature goes, it's pretty lame.

  • Page 11: If you win Mega Millions California Lottery, you can rent out Staples for you and your friends.

  • Page 12: "Burbank! Our newest star!" screams Carmax.  They spread the floor pretty well: SGV/Duarte, LAX, Buena Park, Irvine, Ontario, Burbank.  Seriously, look at that map.  A nice spread. 

  • Page 13: The Guardian Life Insurance Company is Enriching Lives.  "Enriching Lives" is service-marked. 

  • Page 14-15: Introductory two-page photo spread to a feature titled, "Becoming a Name Brand." In the photo, Brand is being guarded in the post by Boris Diaw.

  • Page 16: The Brand feature begins alongside a vertical photo of Elton about to dunk.  The article posits that the breadth of superstars in today's NBA is the most statistically impressive group since 1965-66.  It then generationally classifies the crop as either "certain Hall-of-Famers" or "the new breed."  Naturally, Elton belongs to the new breed, many of whom were on USA Basketball, and the article then enumerates Brand's résumé and backs his membership in the rarified class.

  • Page 17: The Sylvania home is a great place to live.

  • Page 18: Back to the Brand piece. We learns that Darryl Howerton, the author, uses a stat called BARPS [blocks, assists, rebounds, points, and steals] in declaring the statistical superiority of this current class.

  • Page 19: Bud Light is "always worth it," presumably even when it's being sold to you in stadiums, arenas, and airports at $10/per.

  • Page 20: Three shots of EB, including one in his #14 USA Basketball uni.  It's always weird seeing Elton wear any number other than 42.  The general tone of the piece and Elton's quotes - and, to be fair, I'm certain the article was written prior to the season - is that hopeful drunkenness of last May and the off-season.  The story ends without one of those little blocks or dots that marks the end of an article. 

  • Page 21: A $30 rebate when you purchase any set of four Continental tires at Discount Tire.  Their "fingerprints are all over the world's finest vehicles."  Visible fingerprints on nice surfaces stress me out, but I'm sort of OCD. 

  • Pages 22-23: Two-page spread of Corey Maggette introducing a piece titled, "Corey Maggette's Guide to L.A."  Given that team programs are developed, assigned, written, published, and sold by the franchise, you can't expect much editorial innovativeness from them.  As program features go, this is a pretty good idea because the subject might actually convey a little personality. The intro of the piece, which sings the virtues of Los Angeles as a world class city, appears just below and to the right of a huge photo of Corey holding a basketaball before a white background.  

  • Pages 24: Corey is a fan of Fleming's Steakhouse in El Segundo and BOA, which is in the Grafton on Sunset.[6]  He's drank the kool-aid at Geisha House, but has an appreciation for the Old School Burger at The Counter.  Fast food?  The Crazy Chicken. 

    Since Corey signed the bottom of this piece, I can only assume he composed the following of Sunset Strip hotspot, Privilege: "This is a well-liked nightclub and a popular venue among celebrities in town."[7]  The Clippers, as a team, favor LAX.  Corey rocks a wardrobe from Fred Segal, among others, and pays a little extra to be in comfort at the Bridge Cinema De Lux.  And Corey subscribes to the avoid-freeways-at-all-costs school of navigation.

  • P. 25: Carl's Jr. continues to insist that the more they accentuate the vulgar sloppiness of their food, the more we'll buy. 

  • P. 26-27: We've established now that each of the main guys will appear in a two-page spread that precedes their feature.  Here's the broom-headed Chris boxing out Eddy Curry: "Chris Kaman is like No Other." 

  • P.28: Dressed in that orange Buffalo jersey with that absent stare, Kaman looks like a lost crossing guard.  How did Chris Kaman spend his summer vacation? He bought a motor home, drove it to his folks' place in Michigan, then up to Alaska, then back to Yellowstone.  Coming into the season, Chris wanted to improve his face-up shooting, and add a mid-range bank shot.  How's that going?

  • P. 29: A basketball has a boo-boo.  Centinela Freeman. 

  • P. 30: Kaman blocks Trenton Hassell's layup on the top of the page.  Mike Dunleavy reaffirms his comparison of Kaman's skill to Tim Duncan's. 

  • P. 31: Heineken was 1873's first round draft.  Personally, I've always liked the quaintness of sports-targeted ads: Centinela Freeman's injured basketball, Heineken's first round "draft," the alarm system specialists who make sure you're "safe at home," etc. 

  • P. 32: This profile offers a more colorful look, or else Kaman is just a much more forthcoming guy, because we also learn that Chris told Brand that he had a genuinely good time demolishing his [Kaman's] house.  He didn't have fun demolishing it in anticipation of the perfect house he'll build in its place.  No, he had fun pulverizing the structure, like, "banging out the bathroom ceiling," just because.  I remember that kid - usually a boy -- the one who built lego towers just so he could crush them.  Kaman was that kid. 

    It's almost hard to dislike Kaman after this feature.  I mean, you know or knew guys like Kaman in high school and college.  They were scattered, flaky, goofy, and were absolutely harmless to anyone, incapable of engendering any active hatred.

  • P. 33: You can play poker, blackjack, and now baccarat at The Commerce[8].  I'm not sure if it's that kind of blackjack where you have to ante up a dollar each hand.  That's how it used to be in California, if it isn't still.

  • P. 34-35: Stephon Marbury is actually guarding someone - it's Cuttino Mobley in the two-page spread of his feature, "This Cat does more than Purr." 

  • P. 36: A studio shot of Cat hugging a basketball.  The piece is one of the less revealing of the player profiles, but includes some nice Cat trivia.  The Cat nickname apparently comes from a childhood affection for Dr. Seuss.  Seth Burton, the author, asks if it's any coincidence that the Clippers' recent success coincides with Mobley's arrival. 

  • P. 37: Corona Extra and Corona Light want you to relax responsibly.  Unfortunately, my general mode of relaxation demands a little bit of irresponsibility. 

  • P. 38: We see a sidebar, "Getting to know 'The Cat,'" that we haven't seen in the previous profiles.  Mobley's favorite hobby is shooting pool, and he was a QB and WR in high school. 

  • P. 39: Subscribe to Hoop for $12/year. 

  • P. 40: An interesting factoid - Cat was the 41st player selected in the 1998 draft.  Mobley is the fifth-leading scorer from that draft, behind only Pierce, Carter, Nowitzki, and Jamison. 

  • P. 41: According to Dodge, after their 2007 Nitro SUV is unleashed into the marketplace, the streets will never be the same again.  That may or may not explain the idiot packs that've started to clog Sunset and Alvarado at evening rush hour.  

  • P. 42-43: Tim Thomas in "Versatile Veteran." The ink on Thomas' upper arm is obscured.  I can make out only one Asian-language character with "DOG" scripted above it.  The Clippers needed a "rally-killing" three-point specialist, the likes of which Tim Thomas was in the 2006 playoffs; so they signed TT.  Truth in advertising, Thomas has killed many a rally.

  • P. 44: This is one of those features dripping in syllogisms: Because big men have started to perform well from outside, and because Kevin Garnett has that inside-out game, then Tim Thomas must be a player not unlike Kevin Garnett.

  • P. 45: Experience Clippers. Experience L.A. Experience Sports.  710-ESPN Radio, the New Home of the Los Angeles Clippers, never mind that it's a close call between the number of Clipper road wins, and the number of Clipper games that have actually been broadcasted on 710 AM. 

  • P. 46: Thomas, in PHX gear, waving his hand in front of his face.  Basically, the piece continues to summarize exactly how, and to what extent, Thomas buried the Clippers in the postseason and boy are we lucky to have him on our side now.

  • P. 47: Ad for FSN Prime Ticket with Elton suspended in mid-air superimposed over a Good Will Hunting-ish chalkboard background with all sorts of equations scribbled on it.  

  • P. 48: No longer will the Clippers be on the receiving end of Tim Thomas' abuse.  Instead, said abuse will turn on its own.

  • P. 49: A bald kiwi and a fuzzy kiwi side-by-side.  With the Philips Bodygroom, you can look more like Kiwi A and less like Kiwi B.  Oddly, the small copy actually states that the Bodygroom is an "easy way to shave and trim everything from the neck down: chest, back, legs, armpits, buttocks...exotic fruit?"  Clipperblog shits you not.

  • P. 50: "To fuel 4th quarter, push black button" is etched in plastic just above the spout of the Gatorade Cooler.  Apparently, someone has spiked the Clippers' cooler this season with ketamine.

 



[1] You can get more small features and color on the NBA online these days from sites like TrueHoop than from your trusty promotional publication. If you want names, faces, and stats, you can go to the big boys, or get a more nuanced breakdown of the stats from KnickerBlogger.net.  For stat geeks who also appreciate a real voice and some texture, there's never been any place better than 82games.com.

[2] chazz, (v) <var., of  Yiddish, Hebrew "chazar," pig, glutton> To perform an act of gluttony.  We drove out to Arcadia and chazzed at Din Tai Fung.

[3] I'd be curious to hear about others' experiences, but mine is that each Clipper employee I've dealt with since I got to Los Angeles is more competent than the last, whether it's trying to get a friend's birthday on the scoreboard or deal with press relations on a piece you're doing on the Clippers for National Public Radio.  I can't get my phone call returned by the press office this season, but my general experience has been positive.  

[4] Per the "Opportunities" section on the site, they're currently accepting applications.

[5] Ever been to the Palestra in Philadelphia?  Before you kick it, see a game at the Palestra.  I recommend a Penn-Princeton game, but I hear that the Philadelphia Big 5 games are incredible.  The fact that Ralph would ask about the Palestra is endearing.  I heart Ralph Lawler. 

[6] Boa, like its fellow IDG progenies, Sushi Roku and Katana, has that alluring Dodd Mitchell design, tasty food, and there is no mathematical way to get out there for much under $90/person if you have even a sniff of alcohol.  When you've got no corkage at Nick & Stef's ten minutes away, it's hard to give BOA much of a shake.  But it's good.

[7] Weird.  I feel like Shelter just opened, and now it's Privilege?  Disclaimer: I had to know this shit when I edited the Zagat Nightlife Guide. 

[8] Fka [and still ska] Commerce Casino.