LA Clippers unveil new logos during daylong publicity blitz
LOS ANGELES (AP) Coach Doc Rivers shook every hand and smiled for every selfie while he worked the huge line of Los Angeles Clippers fans stretching down the block outside Pink's, the beloved Hollywood hot dog stand, on a sizzling summer Thursday.
''Thanks for the support, really!'' Rivers shouted at the fans holding aloft red T-shirts bearing the Clippers' new logos.
From the skyscrapers to the beaches, the Clippers hit the town to show off their new look. Rivers, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and a host of former players and team employees crisscrossed the Southland to publicize the franchise's revamped branding and uniforms, handing out thousands of shirts and untold tons of free food.
The cosmetic changes are the latest step in the thorough transformation of a long-struggling franchise that became an NBA title contender shortly before Ballmer paid $2 billion for the club 10 months ago. The Clippers aren't entirely abandoning their tepid past, but they're making moves to emphasize their bright future.
''We want everyone in L.A. to feel they can cheer this team and be behind it,'' said Gillian Zucker, the Clippers' president of business operations. ''It's not necessarily about the brand, but it's who's wearing it. It's a high-character team.''
Under disgraced former owner Donald Sterling, the Clippers built a three-decade reputation as perpetual losers, managing just two winning seasons in their first 27 years in Los Angeles. Even the Clippers' longtime logo had been vilified for its plainness and obvious similarities to the Lakers' primary logo.
After Sterling's lifetime banishment from the NBA for racist remarks last summer, Ballmer's Clippers are on a roll with four straight winning seasons and playoff appearances. Long the afterthought behind the 16-time NBA champion Lakers in basketball-crazy Los Angeles, the Clippers have their own passionate fan base and a growing international reputation behind the high-flying playing style of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.
And now they've got new gear for all those fans to buy.
The Clippers' new crest is a red ''LA'' nested inside a large blue ''C.'' That logo sits next to the uniform number on the front of the Clippers' new red road jerseys, while the white home uniforms feature ''Clippers'' in large black letters.
The Clippers have created several secondary logos, and they're adding more black to their traditional red-white-and-blue color scheme - including alternate black uniforms that haven't yet been introduced.
Zucker confirmed the Clippers considered changing their nickname entirely until they did market research.
''We really got the sense that `Clippers' stands for something,'' Zucker said. ''It stands for something powerful, and even more powerful than a Los Angeles basketball team.''
After appearing on ''Conan'' on Wednesday night to debut the new look, Ballmer gave out free shirts and logo-festooned cupcakes in downtown Los Angeles. While Rivers and play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler hit Hollywood, team representatives made appearances in Santa Monica, Universal City and elsewhere.
Ballmer's regime welcomes the attention that comes with a rebranding - even if the new stuff hasn't been a hit on social media so far.
In the first few hours after the logos leaked, Clippers-related accounts were hit with negative criticism of looks deemed too simple, too Microsoft Paint-inspired, too similar to EA Sports' traditional game logo - even too much like the logo of the Chicago Cubs, another historic bunch of lovable losers.
Later in the day, the Clippers introduced new guard Lance Stephenson at their training complex. Rivers acquired Stephenson from Charlotte for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes, adding another versatile scorer who can play solid defense.
''One of the reasons we've been looking at Lance longer than just this summer is because of the dual roles that he can play,'' Rivers said. ''There's always risk involved with a trade. But (Stephenson) is a risk if you go by one year, but I don't know if it's a risk if you go by body of work over his career.''
Indeed, Stephenson heads to the Clippers looking for his own fresh start. He became a starter during his final two seasons with the Indiana Pacers, but endured a miserable single season after signing with the Hornets last summer, shooting just 37.6 percent - a laughable 17.1 percent on 3-pointers.
''I'm just happy to be with a group of guys that's going to be behind me,'' Stephenson said. ''Great leaders, All-Star players, and I can just follow in their footsteps. ... I'm happy. I was working out when I got the call, and I was like, `What? Are you serious? I'm on the Clippers?'''
Plenty of players in NBA history have had that reaction to that phone call - but not usually in a positive way. The Clippers hope their new look is just another part of the change.