Melissa Stetten: Amateur Expertise

Article by Phil Hanrahan

Basketball junkie Melissa Stetten helps us navigate the new-look NBA.

Melissa Stetten holding BasketballTime for Hoops

This past NBA off-season was bananas. Anthony Davis to the Lakers. Russell Westbrook to the Rockets. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Brooklyn-bound.

Among half a dozen other big moves, Paul George said yes to the Clippers.

So did another superstar.

When Kawhi Leonard, the 2019 Finals MVP, opted for the Los Angeles team with zero championships, instead of the L.A. team with 16, I found myself checking the Twitter feed of Melissa Stetten, model, actress, podcast host, former VICE columnist, and five-nine shooting guard for an L.A. rec-league team called The Pistol Shrimps. Why? Because Stetten’s the most devoted Clippers fan I follow on social media.

She’s been tweeting about the Clippers for years. She has season tickets. She wears the gear. She talks all things Clippers on fan sites. In 2014, she even appeared onstage with then-Clippers Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan for a live read of the Space Jam script in an L.A. theater. Plus, there was this tweet in early July: “I don’t mean to sound dramatic but if Kawhi doesn’t sign with the Clippers I’ll kill myself.”

And when Leonard signed?

“OH MY GOD BEST DAY OF MY LIFE. [many, many emojis]”

With the eyes of the basketball world on the L.A. Clippers this season, it seemed fitting to kick off the new season by talking to a Clippers diehard. I asked Stetten about her fandom, the NBA landscape’s seismic shifts, and the all-women team she plays on, one featured in a 2016 documentary film produced by Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me. Aubrey Plaza, of Parks and Recreation fame, is a Pistol Shrimps teammate.

You grew up watching and playing basketball. Who’d you root for?

Being from Kalamazoo, which is equidistant from Detroit and Chicago, I was initially a Pistons fan. If we’re being honest, the real reason I got into basketball was MTV’s Rock N’ Jock series. Luke Perry rode a horse onto the court and I remember thinking, Basketball is so awesome. I also thought Dennis Rodman was the coolest person I’d ever seen. I was like eight years old when all this was happening, please don’t judge me. I eventually started following the Bulls in the late nineties. Michael Jordan, duh. 

How’d you become a Clippers superfan, à la Billy Crystal?

When I moved to L.A., I started dating a lifelong Clippers fan. He took me to my first NBA game—I couldn’t afford to go as a kid—and I was swept up. This was 2011, so Lob City was in full effect, Chris Paul throwing alley-oops to Blake Griffin. The fact that the team had never won a championship made me love them even more. It felt like I was going on this journey with them, decades in the making. Also, that whole thing with Blake tweeting a photo of a chair set against the front door of DeAndre Jordan’s Houston house to keep Mark Cuban from coming in and signing DJ to the Mavs in 2015 was one of the great moments in NBA history, and solidified my fandom forever.

Who are your favorite Clippers, past and present?

I defend every player on this team like they’re my children, but I do have a complicated relationship with Chris Paul. I cried when he hit that Game 7 buzzer-beater against the Spurs in the 2015 playoffs. I did the same when he and Blake got injured during the 2016 playoffs and Austin Rivers had to play with Frankenstein stitches above his cut eye. But these days, with Chris Paul gone, I’d say Patrick Beverley has won me over in his place. 

Blake, though, he was my number one. I screamed when I got an alert on my phone that he’d been traded to Detroit. I even talked about it in therapy. That’s how upset I was. He’s so dreamy and funny — basically the perfect man. He followed me on Twitter for a few years, but he doesn’t anymore, so he’s dead to me. JK! Blake, plz call me. 

The Kawhi signing aside, what’s a big Clippers fandom moment for you?

It had to be that live read of Space Jam with Blake and DeAndre. It was amazing.