Clippers turn Los Angeles into 'Logo City' for day and fans respond in droves
Hundreds of fans braved the searing heat and lined La Brea Ave. over a span of two blocks Thursday for T-shirts with the new Clippers logo and a selfie with coach Doc Rivers outside a Los Angeles staple, Pink's Hot Dogs.
The Clippers blanketed Los Angeles, from Union Station, Stauffer Middle School to Sprinkle's and Universal Studios handing out the new logos and smiles.
Fans showed up in droves to embrace the new culture owner Steve Ballmer created, which is more than new block letters on jerseys. Rivers took photos, thanked fans for coming to Pink's and walked all the way down to the end of the line of fans, thanking them for being there and in turn, many thanked him.
"It's so neat to see," Rivers said. "I wasn't at (Sprinkle's) where Steve (Ballmer) was today. He said it was exactly like this. He said 'be ready.' I thought he was overselling it. He was right. When you see people all the way down the block standing in line, that's pretty cool."
Cars were slowing down La Brea to take photos, making traffic jams on the street and sidewalk. A city bus stopped where Rivers had stopped to take photos on the sidewalk, at a non-bus stop, so a passenger could run down the stairs of the bus and take photos.
One woman screamed from her car: "We love you, Doc Rivers."
Whether or not fans love the new logo, they sure seem to love the Clippers.
"It's nice to see the fans and enthusiasm," Rivers said. "Our team is the reason for the enthusiasm. I think they like the logo, too. I think they really like the team. That's the most important thing."
Rivers first saw the new logo when the Clippers were in the middle of their playoff run, where they needed just one more victory to advance to the Western Conference Finals. The disappointment of blowing a 3-1 lead to the Houston Rockets gave way to excitement for the new logo and a new player, Lance Stephenson, who was introduced Thursday after being traded to the Clippers earlier in the week.
"I like the logo," Doc Rivers said. "It's funny, I saw it earlier in the year. But honestly, when Gillian (Zucker) and the group were showing me, I was more concerned with trying to figure out a way of winning a game. I just like change. I'm a big believer in it. I think it's nice. What I like most is that Steve Ballmer is the owner. Now he has a logo. I think that's neat. I think it's good."
Zucker, the president of business operations, started the new #GearUpLA campaign in the wee hours of the morning, helping hand out T-shirts to fans at a Metro stop.
"I've had the most amazing day in the whole world," Zucker said. "It has been unbelievable, the number of people we've touched and how excited they've been. You run into commuters at Union Station and you start handing out T-shirts and telling people it's the Clippers' new look. People are yelling into cameras, 'Gear up, L.A.!' There was a lot of excitement. We were at Universal Studios for hours and people from all over the world are there. It shows you what a global appeal Los Angeles has. That was an important part of the mark, that monogram we have, it's something that translates to international markets. I think what we saw today was people responding to it."
After all sweating it out along La Brea in the afternoon, Rivers walked with security down an alley behind shops. He joked about how he didn't think he be walking an alley on Thursday, but such was the case with so many fans. He went to the back of Pink's and ordered a Spicy Polish Dog. It was a Chicago-style treat - Pink's version of a Chicago polish hotdog - for Rivers, who grew up in the Windy City. Co-owner Gloria Pink warned him about with the restaurant's cautionary phrase for that version of the hot dog with chili flakes.
"That turns eyeballs into sprinklers," she said.
That didn't phase Rivers.
"He's so nice," said Gloria Pink, who said the restaurant backs both Lakers and Clippers fans. "He never said no today. We loved meeting him. He's so authentic and gracious to everyone."
Ralph Lawler -- the longtime Clippers broadcaster -- handed out T-shirts with Rivers and then worked one end of the line while Rivers made sure to meet-and-greet everyone else.
Lawler had never seen anything like the turnout on Saturday. He gave Zucker a hug Saturday and told her he'd never been happier to be a Clippers.
It was a good day for Clipper Nation. For one day, at least, it was "Logo City."
And Angelenos embraced it.