Last night I was visited by the Ghost of Chargers Future: The Los Angeles Clippers.
From the very murmur of the Spanos family considering the move to LA, the Clippers were used to bludgeon them with perspective: YOU’LL NEVER BE LA’S TEAM. And they should have listened. Now in their 34th year in Los Angeles, and seventh consecutive season with a better team than the Lakers, the majority of fans in Staples Center last night were there to see one player: LeBron James. Admittedly, while I was there to cheer for the Clippers, I was wearing a LeBron jersey and hoped he had some monster dunks, which he did. But when half the crowd goes crazy for a Kyle Korver three, you shouldn’t feel comfortable in your home arena.
It was my first live Clippers game since adopting them as my team when they were freed from the clutches of billionaire racist (and mix of Harvey Weinstein, Steve Wynn, and that photo of haggard Nick Nolte) Donald Sterling. I moved to LA this year and regrettably didn’t get to Staples before Blake Griffin was shipped off to punch equipment managers in Motown. Thus I went there to pay homage to baby faced monster DeAndre Jordan and to convince LeBron to join him in LA. These aren’t illuminated billboards, but I think they make a pretty solid case.
Unfortunately these airtight arguments won’t be enough. If he’s moving to LA, it’s to play for the Lakers. Cap space and draft picks be damned, there is just no selling someone like LeBron on the Clippers. They won the game but are STILL a joke franchise. You know you’re decades from contention when someone like LeBron would rather wear Big Baller Brand than be seen with Chuck the Condor.
Kobe also snubbed the Clippers this week, though his was more subtle. Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” won the oscar for animated short film. (Just when you think #TimesUp, Kobe with the buzzer beater. SMH). The aesthetically charming love letter to basketball depicts a Kobe watching VHS highlights of the 1984 NBA finals, and professes extreme gratitude to the sport itself, because it “…gave a six year old boy his Laker dream.”
Excuse me, sir, your LAKER dream?
Oh you love hoops because Magic Johnson had some slick layups? Then it was probably a complete coincidence that YOUR FATHER PLAYED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL. And knowing the insane competitive bent of the Bryants, if there were any NBA finals tapes in the house, there was ONE: 1977 Blazers vs Sixers, where Joe “Jellybean” Bryant was dishing alley oops to DOCTOR FUCKING J. I’m guessing the only Laker “highlight” Kobe was allowed to watch as a 6 year old was the time his dad dunked on Kareem Abdul Jabbar. And he did it with the SAN DIEGO MOTHER FUCKING CLIPPERS.
That is what the Chargers have to look forward to in Los Angeles. An entire generation scrubbing the Bolts from their collective memories. I’m calling it now: by 2050, four of Philip Rivers’ eighteen kids will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, and in their speeches they’ll talk about how they fell in love with football: growing up watching the Rams. Because it was the only team on TV.
Jono Zalay is a native San Diegan standup comic and co-host of the F*** The Chargers podcast. He now lives in Los Angeles where he can hate the Chargers from close proximity.