Clipper fans were merciless in their treatment of 7-foot center Benoit Benjamin last season, booing him at every opportunity as the Clippers endured a 12-70 season, the third worst record in National Basketball Assn. history.
The fans booed again when Benjamin was introduced before Saturday night's exhibition game against the Golden State Warriors at the Sports Arena.
But they were cheering Benjamin after the Clippers came back to beat the Warriors, 104-103, for their second exhibition win.
Although he scored only six points in 18 minutes off the bench, Benjamin was intimidating on defense, particularly in the third period.
Benjamin had six blocks, including four in the third period. He also pulled down six rebounds, including three in the third period.
"The big fella is starting to play," Clipper guard Norm Nixon said of Benjamin.
Said Benjamin: "I'm getting in better shape. I think that's the key."
The crowd of 2,381 gave Benjamin an ovation when he was replaced by rookie center Martin Nesley with 7 minutes 40 seconds left in the fourth period.
And they were calling for Benjamin after Nesley fouled out with 1 1/2 minutes left in the game.
"For one stretch he (Benjamin) played extremely well," Warrior reserve center Jerome Whitehead said. "He's a tremendous shotblocker."
Said Benjamin: "I can live with the booing and I can live with the cheers. But it makes you feel good to know that your home fans are behind you."
However, new Clipper Coach Gene Shue cautioned against getting too excited about Benjamin's performance in an exhibition game.
"I look at Benoit as a player who is starting out from scratch," Shue said. "I know they've had high expectations over him in the past, but until Benoit is consistent, I'm not going to say anything about him."
Guard Eric (Sleepy) Floyd led the Warriors with 19 points, and Rod Higgins added 13. Larry Drew led the Clippers with 14 points, and Mike Woodson added 12. Woodson suffered a bruised jaw, and guard Quintin Dailey suffered a sprained left ankle, but neither injury is thought serious. Golden State center J.B. Carroll played just 15 minutes before going to the bench with a right ankle sprain. . . . Clipper President Alan Rothenberg said the club is at a standstill in negotiations with Georgetown guard/forward Reggie Williams, its No. 1 draft pick. "We have made him an offer that is the most lucrative rookie offer ever in the NBA except for a big man. We can't do anything but hope they come to their senses." . . . The Clippers play the Sacramento Kings tonight at Yuba College.