LOS ANGELES — Darrell Bailey braced himself.
The first volley of smack talk hit him after only a few steps. It came from men in purple Lakers T-shirts. “Clipper Darrell!” yelled one. “We got LeBron, baby! We got LeBron! We gonna win championships, Clipper Darrell! How you like that?”
Bailey, 50 years old, short and broad-shouldered, is the biggest, loudest, most passionate fan of the city’s junior varsity N.B.A. team: the Los Angeles Clippers. He goes to every home game. He wears a tailor-made, two-piece suit, divided vertically — Clippers red on one side; Clippers blue on the other. On the back, spread across both colors, is the logo of his beloved team.
During games, he rises in the stands. He dances. He shouts. He twirls. He raps.
He is such a fixture in the Clippers firmament that Angelenos have blended his name with the team’s.
Clipper Darrell, they call him.
But this wasn’t a Clippers game. Bailey was walking from his car toward a basketball gym at King/Drew Magnet High School near Watts, resplendent nonetheless in his red and blue. He nodded at the men taunting him. He tried to shrug them off. Lakers fans — seldom humble in their devotion to the city’s varsity N.B.A. team — have grown ever more merciless during the three weeks since LeBron James announced he would be joining the team on a four-year, $154 million contract.