Actor Chris Wylde’s first Clippers game, in 2001, was free. His friend scored tickets to watch the young NBA team at Staples Center through a store-run promotion when he purchased a new set of tires and passed one along. “We cheered our faces off and had the time of our lives,” says Wylde. A few days later, he threw down for season tickets. The tab: $800. “They were the most affordable season tickets in the league.”
Wylde has renewed his subscription ever since, and over the past 14 years he’s seen the team—and its ticket pricing—ascend. He’s also become familiar and friendly with the small but dedicated group of fans that supported the team as it found its legs. We asked Wylde—whose future wife first spotted him on the arena Jumbotron in 2006—to introduce us to the Clippers’ biggest admirers:
The actor has been rooting for the team from a seat next to the one recently vacated by former owner Donald Sterling since “the beginning.” When the Clippers advanced against the San Antonio Spurs in this year’s playoffs, Crystal was one of the first people Chris Paul squeezed after the buzzer.
James L. Brooks
The Simpsons writer-producer sits next to the announcer, on the floor level behind the scorer’s table. “He’s at every game,” says Wylde, who points out that it’s no surprise that The Simpsons animators have created special graphics for the team, like one that shows baby Maggie slam dunking a ball into a hoop that’s attached to Marge’s hair.
The actress-writer-producer sits on the floor level, opposite Billy Crystal, and makes herself right at home. “She knows everyone,” says Wylde. “I’ve seen her handing out Christmas presents to Staples Center employees.”
The president of L.A.’s police commission has been a regular at Staples Center since it opened in ’99 (he’s credited with having the idea for the development). He made his most famous courtside appearance in 2014 when he and fellow Clippers fan Rihanna posed for a selfie to promote the LAPD.
Jay Z and Beyonce
“They started showing up at games against the Nets,” says Wylde. “But this season they showed up anytime they were in L.A. Easily 75 well wishers circle them at halftime. They take pictures with people and shake hands. They seem nice about it.”
Adam DeVine and Eric Griffin
The Workaholics co-stars sit in the third row and show up on the Clippers Jumbotron constantly, says Wylde. Griffin “does an weird old version of the Cabbage Patch dance. Adam just mugs.”
He’s the team’s unofficial mascot. Dressed in a half red, half blue suit and red and blue Clippers cap he leads the Staples Center in a Let’s Go Clippers, Let’s Go! cheer. He sits behind the basket, and is known for taunting away team players when they’re at the free-throw line. “’U-G-L-Y, you ain’t go no alibi!’—that’s his thing.”
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When the pro boxer (pictured here with Rob Lowe) is on the Jumbotron, half the arena boos him. “He smiles it off,” says Wylde.
M.I.A.: The Clippers Stripper
Wylde remembers a superfan who, for years, showed up to games wearing layer over layer of Clippers gear. (The Web site LA Observed identified him as Mitchell Lancaster in 2010.) “He’d pile on jerseys and tear-away pants. Then, when he was on the Jumbotron, he’d strip down until he was in a T-shirt and shorts,” says Wylde, who hasn’t spotted him around the Staples Center lately. “I think they priced him out.”