In case you may have been spending the past two months living under a rock or in a cave somewhere (in which case, I envy you because this fiasco in Los Angeles has melted my brain), longtime Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is now soon-to-be former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, after some abhorrent comments of his came into the public eye and resulted in the NBA banning him for life and forcing a sale of the team. Shortly afterwards, the team found a buyer in the form of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who will be purchasing the team for $2 Billion. Yes, Billion with a “B.”
Of course, this has opened a whole new world of possibilities for the team that, even with a wildly successful season that coincided with easily the worst season in decades for their co-tenant Los Angeles Lakers, is still seen by many as the little brother to those very same Lakers. One of those possibilities was the idea of a complete identity change for the team, as prominently pointed out by Arash Markazi over at ESPN. From the article:
Changing the name and logo would be perhaps the easiest transformation in all of sports. The Clippers don’t have an arena of their own, as they share the Staples Center with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kings and Sparks. They are the only tenant in the arena without a championship banner or retired jersey hanging from the rafters. Their only real marks on the arena on game days are makeshift signs and banners that are hung and removed before and after each game and changed before each season. Oh, and the red, white and blue balloons tied to Lakers statues before playoff games.
He continues to make a pretty convincing argument for a change, and I tend to agree. Most of the fanbase would probably agree since there’s really no type of significant history connected to that name due to the franchise’s staggeringly consistent level of horrifically bad play on the court in the years before Chris Paul and Blake Griffin came to the club. This wouldn’t be like turning the Washington Bullets (with an NBA title to their name) into the Washington Wizards, nor would it be like transforming the Detroit Pistons into a teal, black, and red team, throwing away years of history just to keep up with a fad that only lasted half a decade. When there’s no history to be found (except for the type that you have to cover up), it’s a perfect to chance to write your own history, and what better way to do that than to tear the old identity down and build a new one completely from scratch?
The beautiful thing is Ballmer could probably name the team anything within reason and still make hand over fist in merchandising sales simply because of who he has on the team. If you have names like the aforementioned Blake Griffin and Chris Paul on your team and you’re playing in a city like Los Angeles, you can sell anything with their names and/or faces on it.
The pool of new identities would be endless. They could go back to the past and bring back the Buffalo Braves in the form of the Los Angeles Braves, which would hopefully give the NBA another shot of orange in the arm since the Bobc-I mean, the Hornets abandoned it. They could keep on diving into the nostalgia well and pay homage to the city’s ABA lineage and obvious connection to Hollywood with the Los Angeles Stars identity. A bit generic, yes, but if the Dallas Stars in the NHL can make it work, why can’t LA? That’s just talking about nostalgia, and once again, you really could give the team any sensible nickname and it’d be an improvement over their current identity. “Lobbers” might be too close to Lakers, but considering that the team’s only relevant history has been made with the “Lob City” nickname, they may as well try to run with it.
With all of that being said and even though, once again, I agree that a fresh identity for Ballmer’s L.A. NBA team would be nice, I still think that this team is going to stick with the Clippers name. If that’s the case, then I just want them to make their primary logo look more like a boat. That’s all I’ve asked of them for years, now. Anything would be better than what they have now, which is pretty clearly a ripoff of the Lakers’ logo.
If they go that route, then I suggest that they do something similar to what CCSLC member mbannon92 suggested a while back in his concept for the Clippers; Update the old San Diego Clippers logo into something that makes it clear about what a “Clipper” actually is. When you have people making jokes at your expense and using hair clippers or living paper clips from Steve Ballmer’s past to make the joke, that’s how you know that your visual identity is far too ambiguous and a change is badly needed.
Complete identity change or not, one thing is definitely clear, in my opinion: The Los Angeles Clippers are indeed in dire need of some sort of change with their identity, and with a new owner who is looking to put his mark on things and make it crystal clear that change is on the way, the easiest way to do that would be to simply switch things up on the visual front.
What do you guys think, though? Think a change might be too drastic, or do you agree that it’s time to move on with a new identity? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.