In contrast to the other author of this blog, I am a true Clippers fan. I’ve been one since the Odom, Brand, and Darius Miles days. I like cheering for the underdogs and the Clippers are considered the ultimate underdogs in this world of basketball. But after reading an excellent post on Elton Brand by the guys at clipperblog.com, I wanted to put in my own 2 cents on one of the guys I used to respect and admird and considered a role model.
Elton Brand was the player that got me into becoming a Clippers fan in the first place. At that time, I always liked the power forward position because of Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. And being a big 5th grader at the time, I usually played low post like a power forward during recess basketball times. Even when I joined afterschool basketball, the coach put me threw me in the power forward position. Then my brother introduced me to Elton Brand and the Clippers and told me how much of a beast he was. I watched him block shots, get rebounds, go for dunks, utilizing a lot of fake moves. I was impressed. This was also during the time Lamar Odom was injured and it was basically Brand running the show. It was that season, Brand was selected as an All-Star, and the Los Angeles Clippers had a 39-43 record and was short of playoff contention by only a few games. I had high hopes for the Clippers after this season and never looked back.
But then in the Clippers world, the next several years was filled with mediocrity. Horrible management plus disgruntled players really damaged the team. But even through the chaos that was the Clippers, there was one person keeping the ship afloat and it was Elton Brand. He was the golden boy, the franchise player, and one of the most respectable players ever. I remember around two years ago, me and bchetta went to a Clippers vs. Lakers game. After the game we stayed outside of the players parking lot hoping to get a glimpse or autograph of any of the players. All the cars that was leaving the parking lot left but I remembered Elton Brand staying and giving autographs to all these people. Even when his car was mobbed, he still smiled and gave them autographs. Great player, great character, this guy was everything you want your star player to be. I supported him even when he tore his achilles because injuries happen and he was not invincible.
But then the unthinkable happened. The summer where Elton Brand spent his time getting Baron Davis over here to play for the Clippers was also the summer he bailed out on us. Behind the manipulations of his agent, David Falk, Elton Brand signed with the Philadelphia Sixers on July 9, 2008 even though he said he would never leave LA. This was a heartbreaking moment for me. The player who I admired throughout my childhood, who I thought was one of the greatest guys in the world, whose playing style I tried emulating when I play basketball, just left and vanished to the other side of the country. The Clippers did not just lose their star player, they lost the person that defined the team in the last 8 years. And me, I lost a role model and my favorite basketball player. That year for the Clippers was also disappointing and pretty pathetic in my eyes. The last time I seen that much uninspired and unmotivated basketball playing from them was when Andre Miller and Lamar Odom was there. And Elton Brand paid the cost for his defection when karma bit him in the ass and gave him a season ending injury. The only lone bright spot in all this madness was the emergence of young player Eric Gordon, and the drafting of one of the most hyped rookies since Lebron James, Blake Griffin. So while the Los Angeles Clippers slowly rebuild themselves into playoff contenders, Elton Brand is left withering in the cold Philadelphia weather where the fans don’t respect him as much as the LA fans did, where he does not fit in with their playing style and is now a bench player, where his contract is too big and no other team wants him, and where his Sixers have the second worst record in the Eastern Conference after the New Jersey Nets.
So no, I do not hate Elton Brand, because without his betrayal, the future of the Los Angeles Clippers would not be as bright as it would’ve been had he stayed. Even though I was disappointed when he left, he did make sure we got another star player in Baron Davis. And with tickets to the Clippers/Sixers game on New Years eve, I’m hoping to enjoy watching my Clippers fans brethen boo him out of Staples Center.