O.C. Register: It was Jan. 4, 2004, and the most memorable Clippers moment in the entirety of this intra-city “rivalry” occurred during a timeout at Staples Center.
The bright red fabric was held aloft, like a flag symbolizing hope for a better future. The thing was practically dancing because of the way its owner was turning it to and fro, reveling in the beat of the music and feeding off the roars from the crowd.
It was a designated Clippers home game against the Lakers – the only game in four meetings the Clippers would win in a season that would end with the Lakers in the NBA Finals and the Clippers at 28-54 – and everyone knew the implication.
On the back of the red Clippers jersey this fan was showcasing to everyone, looking as official as could be, was No. 8 … and “BRYANT” above it.
Six months later, the dream almost came true. Bryant tiptoed through the final hours still considering the Clippers’ free-agent contract offer before re-signing with the Lakers.
“I could see myself playing for the Clippers,” he said then. “Ultimately, it was in my heart to be a Laker. But it was a tough decision.”