Clippers fans send up a flare for LeBron James

Clippers fans want you to understand that their devotion to their team isn't an expression of irony, even if it might seem that way from the outside looking in. The emotional investment in the Clippers is serious even if the organization has done little over the years to earn it. What do Clippers fans derive from that investment? The faith that things will get better next season. That hope carries particular meaning this summer because the Clippers are sitting on a mound of cap space as the most heralded class of free agents in NBA history hits the open market.

When Clipper fans say they want LeBron James in Los Angeles as a Clipper, they're entirely sincere. They'll recite the salient points of their argument with passion: A solid supporting cast for a superstar small forward, an impressive home arena and training facility, a city with an alluring lifestyle, a large stage where James can propel his status as a global icon. If James likes storybook romance, there's an unprecedented opportunity to rebrand a sports franchise. Clippers fans are a fatalistic bunch. They realize the odds are stacked against them, but feel obliged to make the case.

"Clipper Darrell" Bailey, who customizes cars for a living, and singer-songwriter Joshua Fischel hatched the idea to gather Clippers fans to rally in support of their team signing James this summer. They're media savvy. Want to get the basketball media's attention? Host the event at L.A. Live across from Staples Center prior to the Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.

The unlikely event that the James camp took notice seemed like an afterthought to the 100 or so fans rounding Staples Center during the rally. The Clipper parade-goers are like every other fan base in the NBA sitting home as impartial observers -- they're desperate for a cause. On Thursday, Bailey and Fischel gave them one.