Sports are a very interesting phenomenon. On paper, it's just a game. It's just a ball going into a hole. But for so many people, it's so much more than that. It's an inspiration to keep going in life. It's a gap that helps bridge fractured relationships.
The Clippers may not have ever won a championship, but it's a unique franchise that means so much to so many people. It takes a special type of person to root for an underdog of that level, and being a fan of the team has helped shaped the lives of so many.
"When I was growing up I always felt like a loner," said longtime fan Jeffrey Beltran. "I felt like I could relate to this team. While I was wearing a Baron Davis jersey everyone was wearing a Kobe (RIP) jersey. I was practicing bullied for being the 'loser' in the Clippers jersey."
Beltran is a 25-year-old fan living in East Hollywood that's been rooting for the Clippers since he was 9 years old in 2005. Much of his life has been attached to the team.
"I’ve always felt more attached to this franchise than any other sports team ever," Beltran said. "When they win, I win. When they lose, I lose. Being at Game 6 had me in literal tears because to me it felt like I finally went over the hump in my own life. I’ve dealt with depression for as long as I can remember. So seeing PG be the one to lead us over it meant so much more. I love this team and will never stop loving this team."
The underdog mentality of the Clippers has extended itself to others feeling that identity in their everyday life. The team that no one cared about for decades is something that resonates in others who feel forgotten.
"They showed me that you can be the underdog and still make a difference," said Randell Rosario in Puerto Rico.
35 years old, Rosario grew up in Philadelphia, currently lives in Puerto Rico, and has loved the Clippers for the past 11 years since 2010. He instantly found himself in a team of hard grinders that people had no expectations out of.
"I'm the black sheep of the family, but that has not stopped me from being a reporter in Telemundo, and a pretty damn good singer/composer," Rosario said. "All because of the Clips, you don't have to be the favorite to make an impact."
Rosario isn't alone being inspired by the Clippers' underdog persona. It's something that motivates people of all ages, including 18-year-old Ziran Gomez of Arcadia.
"It taught me that it’s okay to not love the popular opinion, and it quickly taught me about the underdog mentality," Gomez said. "I’ve seen this team come back from large deficits and that gives me so much strength in my regular life. I can have a B halfway through the semester, but I know I can finish off with an A. Solely cause of the Clippers giving me that motivation to not give up."
One of the best things about sports is how it can become a connector for broken relationships. It's something that people can root in together, regardless of whatever differences.
"I never had a dad growing up, and I went with my uncle to a game vs the 76ers, said one anonymous fan. "That game meant so much to me because it was the closest I’ve ever had to a father figure, and the arena was shaking with great energy. Since then, I've devoted my loyalty to the Clippers."
This isn't an uncommon experience - sports brings families together. It can help a child who didn't have a good parental relationship, develop something special.
"My relationship with my dad has been dramatically improved by our Clippers fandom," said another anonymous fan. "My dad and I have been going to games together since the 04-05 season, and continue to do so into my mid-twenties. I'm so grateful for all the amazing memories we've made at Staples and can't wait to continue making them."
Regardless of whether the Clippers win a game or lose a game throughout the years, the entire journey is an entertaining ride. One that distracts fans from their problems, and allows them to invest their lives in something else.
"I used to hate going to school and had some personal issues," said Liam Skinner who lives in England. "Whenever it was a Clipper game day, it would give me something to look forward to and helped me to forget about everything else."
Skinner has followed the Clippers from England since 2015. The home games tipoff at 3:00 am, and he only gets about four hours of sleep anytime he stays up for games. Win or lose, he keeps coming for more.
"The Lob City era was so fun to witness, even with the disappointments," Skinner said. "When we were the most hated on 'other LA team', it made me want to root for them even more. My love for the Clippers also gave me the desire to travel to LA a couple of years back, which was the trip of a lifetime."
Sports are more than just sports. The advertisements and slogans you see are more than what they are. What may seem like a ball going in a hole, or a catchy slogan, can help shape an individual's life. For these special Clipper fans, the team helped improve their lives for the better.