'Clipper Darrell,' Clippers butt heads

LOS ANGELES -- When the Los Angeles Clippers signed forward Bobby Simmons on Monday, the nine-year veteran who last played for the Clippers in 2005, smiled and said, "I can't wait to see Clipper Darrell."

It looks like Simmons won't be seeing him anytime soon.

Darrell Bailey, an 11-year season ticket holder who is better known as "Clipper Darrell," announced on his website Wednesday that the team has asked him to refrain from using the name "Clipper Darrell."

"I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell, a name that was given to me by the media because of my unwavering support and team spirit," he wrote. "I am devastated!"

After Bailey announced the news on Twitter, Clippers players quickly came to his support.

Clippers guard Chris Paul wrote, "WE GOT YOU!!!" Clippers forward Blake Griffin tweeted, "Bring back #ClipperDarrell," and Clippers center DeAndre Jordan added, "I love you Clipper Darrell…#ClipperDarrell."

"I'm not feeling too good right now," Bailey told ESPNLosAngeles.com by phone Wednesday. "They asked me not to be Clipper Darrell anymore. They don't want me to dance. They don't want me to cheer anymore at the games. I can't be Clipper Darrell. They don't want me in the suit. They don't want me to do anything anymore."

Bailey refused to go into further details. The Clippers issued a harshly-worded statement in response to Bailey's claims on Wednesday.

"The Clippers have done absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate as it concerns Darrell Bailey. His claims are absurd and unfounded. He has never been an employee or representative of the Clippers organization, and therefore cannot be terminated," the team said. "The Clippers have never engaged Mr. Bailey's services. When he has been in need, the organization has regularly provided him a seat for games. No good deed goes unpunished.

"We have had multiple conversations with him concerning his inappropriate use of the Clippers' team name and trademark for his own unmonitored commercial gain. We have spoken to him repeatedly about his desire to make public appearances in ways which improperly suggest that he is officially affiliated with our organization. In all cases and over a long period of time, he has consistently rejected our efforts to operate in consultation.

"In a conversation with an authoritative and tenured Clippers' executive last week, he was asked again to either consult with the team on all public appearances and/or commercial ventures, or stop undertaking those opportunities representing himself inappropriately. His response was an offer to stop representing himself commercially in that way and his offer was accepted in principle.The next thing we heard was the baseless claims he has made today and the ensuing media rush to judgment.

"We hold all of our fans in the highest esteem and we have been patient and generous with Mr. Bailey. He has not returned our support in an honorable way. He is not actually a fan of the Clippers, but a fan of what he can make off of the Clippers. We are no longer interested in that kind of association with him, and that is why we accepted his offer to remove our team name from his stage name."

This isn't the first time Bailey and the team have butted heads. Bailey has often complained about the team holding him back and preventing him from securing endorsement deals while the team has been upset that he has sold merchandise and booked public appearances on his website using the Clippers name for years.

Bailey's profile has increased recently with the success of the Clippers and no one has embraced him more than Paul, who regularly engages with him on Twitter, invites him to many of his public appearances and walked the red carpet with him at the launch of his new shoe in January.

"I used to hear him for years as a visitor," Paul said last month. "He used to scream and tell me how ugly I was. I'm glad he's on my team now."

Bailey, 44, has been a Clippers season ticket holder since the 2000-01 season and every aspect of his life seemingly revolves around the team. He wears a custom-made suit, half red, half blue to home games. He drives a customized 1995 BMW 740i, painted in red, white and blue with a Clippers logo and autographs on the hood and "CLIPERD" license plates. Even his Los Angeles home, where he lives with his wife and four children, is painted in Clippers colors.

"Clippers Nation made me who I am," Bailey said. "I didn't give myself the nickname but I guess the team can take it away."

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.