It finally happened.  The crowds have been large, but pretty much a jumbo version of the traditional Clipper fan base.  Even the playoff crowds were composed of the same regular season fans – just more of them.  Last night was different; Staples felt very…event-ish, like a totally different place, like a Laker game.  On a Wednesday night.  I know it's Dallas, but I don't get the impression that the Mavs were the draw; it was the Clippers.   The taxonomy of the new fans:

  • Father/Son Outing:  These are genuinely nice family people – of all creeds, but financially well-off – who have been watching the Clips on FSN/KCAL the past couple of seasons, but haven't been compelled to schlep downtown until now.  Maybe Dad has observed 12-year-old son really getting into the games, learning the roster, logging on to study the box scores.  Dad, fully aware of the increasing difficulty of finding things he and Kid can do together figures that getting Clipper Naçion citizenship will be a nice way for the two of them to maintain a bond as Kid approaches aggro-adolescence. [Kid recently told the 'rents that he would no longer tolerate their presence at the Cineplex on a Friday night] 

    Much to Dad's surprise, Clips' tickets are reasonable, and the drive to Staples isn't all that bad if they take the 134 to the 5 rather than the 101 from Sherman Oaks.  

  • Scott & Jeff: Groups of guys after work, very attractive, making money, and generally enjoying life in their twenties and thirties.  They aren't rabid basketball fans (but have traditionally followed the Lakers, though tepidly and without emotional attachment), but enjoy sports enough and, most important, are trend-chasers.  They like sexy.  If the Clippers have become a hot ticket, they want a seat at the table. 

  • Silver Lake in the House:  The hipsters.  The Clips are the sportsworld's great alterna-team and going to a game is an expressive gesture of irony.  In defense of these folks [and if I weren't already a hopeless sports geek, I'd probably fall squarely into this category], some of these guys were sports fans once upon a time, but lost interest after the MLB strike and the mass commercialization of sports.  By the time they graduated college, they'd cultivated far too many other interests to waste time following sports and found that their offbeat good looks were actually attractive to chicks [they hadn't realized they were nice-looking until they were 23].  Recently, though, the Clips have offered these guys a window of opportunity to be nostalgic, to be a little bit black, and to exist in opposition to the Lakers [the establishment]. 

Some people hate bandwagoning and, viscerally, there's a little bit of sadness watching this develop – sort of like walking into your favorite below-the-radar Thai joint one night only to find it's been fully discovered by the world.  Personally, I don't care.  If DTS is willing to spend the money, I say we should make it as easy as possible for him.  Elton is due an extension in the coming year or two, as is Shaun.  So scoot over and make room.  Don’t be afraid.