Sports

Steve Ballmer is giving the Clippers a Pretty Woman makeover


As part of their attempt to emancipate themselves from the Lakers and rebrand their image, Steve Ballmer took the LA Clippers out on a shopping spree and unveiled the images of their new logo and uniforms to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

For 40 years, the Clippers have been guests in their own home arena. Since moving to Los Angeles from San Diego, they’ve leased out space in the Forum and then followed the Lakers to Staples/Crypto Arena. The discrepancy between the Clippers and Lakers reputations couldn’t be more dramatic. Between 1984 when the Clippers touched down in Los Angeles and Donald Sterling’s ouster in 2014, the Clippers owned the NBA’s lowest winning percentage while sharing a space with a dynastic organization that won more games than any team in that period.

Ballmer changed the Clippers tone a decade ago, but this is the final stage of his billion-dollar investment into his NBA passion project. After years of living in the Lakers garage, Ballmer is Pretty Woman-ing the Clippers loser brand. When the $2 billion Intuit Dome opens next season, they’ll be shedding their old skin for their yacht era.

The salt-of-the-earth basketball with LA crammed inside a giant letter C has been replaced by a Rorsach test of a logo. At first glance it’s either a schooner or yacht, but it doubles as an urn signifying the death of the bygone era of Sterling’s austerity or the last home left in the neighborhood their sprawling complex wiped out. Art is subjective.

Technically, the clipper ship logo alludes to the “naval vessels which adorn the coasts of San Diego”where the Clippers resided before relocating to L.A. Upper middle class sailing hobbyists are going to be ecstatic. This is the NBA equivalent of moving out of your apartment into a palatial estate, going under the knife, dumping the bifocals for colored contacts or Lasik, hiring a stylist, upgrading your wardrobe, getting veneers done and ditching the dive bars to hobnob in high society clouds. The Clippers are just the latest franchise to move out on their own, buy their own furniture and 1,100 urinals so no fan will ever feel the need to relieve themselves on their pristine sidewalks outside their arena. Brooklyn and the Warriors have both made the transition in the last 12 years. Now it’s the Clippers turn.

In January, the Clippers introduced a 51-row fan section known as The Wall. The Wall is how Ballmer intends to foster a sense of community within the Clippers new confines to disguise their snobby new look, but it will also be the only affordable tickets available. The days of Clipper tickets being the more affordable option are ending. In addition to the $2 billion it cost to construct their state-of-the-art arena, Ballmer even bought the old Forum from James Dolan’s Madison Square Garden Company for $400 million to eliminate any opposition to the Intuit Dome.

The uniform and cruise ship logo are the final stages of a franchise transitioning to a highfalutin lifestyle. All they’re missing are the J. Crew uniforms. A few years from now, the original fans who revered the Clippers won’t even be able to recognize them or get in the front door. Ballmer’s Wall, their upscale logo, new font, and uniforms redesigns signify the completion of Inglewood’s gentrification. This is how it starts at establishments moving to upscale neighborhoods. Clipper Darrell better upgrade his off-the-rack suit collection before he gets denied entry for violating the dress code.

Find DJ Dunson on X…or don’t: @cerebralsportex 

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