|Los Angeles Clippers|
|History|| Buffalo Braves |
San Diego Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers
|City||Los Angeles, California|
|Team Colors||Red, White, and Blue|
|Head Coach||Mike Dunleavy Sr.|
- Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (1970-1978)
- San Diego Sports Arena (1978-1984)
- Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (1984-1999)
- Staples Center (1999-present)
Franchise history 編輯
The Buffalo years (1970-78)編輯
The Braves, in their eight seasons in Buffalo, played their home games at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, sharing the arena with another new franchise, the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, who also debuted in 1970. The team's first head coach was Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, the franchise's first star players were Bob Kauffman and Don May, who were acquired in the expansion draft. As typical of first-year expansion teams, the Braves finished with a 22-60 record, seven games ahead of expansion-mate Cleveland, who finished their season at 15-67. Kauffman, who averaged 4.3 points per game the previous year with the Chicago Bulls, led Buffalo in scoring with 20.4 points per game and earned a spot on the 1971 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team.
The Braves repeated their 22-60 season in the following 1971-72 season, but did make good acquisitions that would make the club better. Buffalo drafted center Elmore Smith from Kentucky State University, and local favorite Randy Smith, from Buffalo State College. Schayes was replaced one game into the season with John McCarty as the team's head coach. The team didn't do much better in the 1972-73 season, as they went 21-61 under new head coach, Dr. Jack Ramsay. The Braves' big move of that season was the drafting for forward/center Bob McAdoo, from North Carolina. The team finally made their first playoff appearance in 1973-74, where they faced the Boston Celtics and lost in six games in the first round.
In 1974-75 Bob McAdoo was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, averaging 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.12 blocks per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 80.5 percent from the free-throw line. The Braves made a trip to the playoffs in the 1974-75 season and again during the 1975-76 season, which would be one of their last in Buffalo.
In the summer of 1976, the team's founding owner Paul Snyder initially sold 50 percent of the franchise to businessman John Y. Brown, Jr., who had previously owned the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association. Brown later acquired the remaining portion from Synder sometime in the 1976-77 season. Brown, in turn, sold a percentage of the team to another businessman, Harry Mangurian, who later went on to own a portion of the Boston Celtics in the 1980s. However, a provision in the transaction stipulated that if Brown sold the contract of any Braves player, then the money would go to Synder and the purchase price would be reduced. This subsequently occurred when the Braves sent McAdoo to the New York Knicks for players and cash midway through the 1976-77 season.
Brown renegotiated his lease on Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, to include a clause stating if the Braves did not sell at least 4,500 season tickets, the Braves could be left out of their lease and be free to move to another city. Because of the team's poor play in their final two years (30-52 in 1976-77 and 27-55 in 1977-78), along with rumors of the franchise relocating, John Y. Brown met with the then-owner of the Celtics, Irv Levin and negotiated a deal in which the owners would swap franchises, in which Brown would take control of the Celtics and Levin would get the Braves. Levin was a California businessman, and wanted to own a NBA team in his native state. The deal was brokered by David Stern, the general counsel for the NBA who later became the league's commissioner in 1984. Following what would be the final season in western New York, the NBA owners voted 21-1 to let the Braves relocate. They moved to San Diego, California after the 1977-78 season, and became the San Diego Clippers.
Such a move could be construed as collusion today, but at the time there was nothing in the laws that would prevent the actions that cost Buffalo its NBA team. Virtually identical techniques would be used twenty-five years later to move the Montreal Expos baseball franchise to Washington, a move in which Expos owner Jeffrey Loria and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig successfully fought off racketeering charges.
The San Diego years (1978-84)編輯
In the team's first season in San Diego, the Clippers posted a winning record, going 43-39, under new head coach Gene Shue. However, that record wasn't good enough to advance them to the post-season, finising two games out of the final playoff spot. As it turned out, it would be the Clippers' last winning season for 13 years. It was also in that first season in Southern California that long-time announcer Ralph Lawler began his association with the club. Randy Smith had another solid season, averaging 20.5 points per game, finishing second behind World B. Free, who was acquired in the offseason from the Philadelphia 76ers. Free finished second overall in NBA scoring average, with 28.8 per game, while George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs had a 29.6 average.
The 1979-80 season wasn't much better, as the Clippers began to struggle, but not before they brought in San Diego native, center Bill Walton, who was two years removed from an NBA championship with the Trail Blazers. Walton wasn't much of an impact unfortunately, due to missing 68 games because of foot injuries, which he also suffered in his final years in Portland. San Diego managed to finish with a record of 37-45, despite the fact that many of their key players missed games due to injuries. Free continued his great scoring, again finishing second in league scoring, with 30.2 PPG. Paul Silas replaced Shue the following season, and the Clippers finished with a 36-46 record, once again missing the postseason. Walton missed the entire season once again due to chronic foot injuries. Free was traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for guard Phil Smith.
The 1981-82 season brought more changes to the Clipper franchise as Irv Levin sold the team to Los Angeles-area real estate developer and attorney Donald Sterling for $20 million. The Clippers' poor play in their final years in San Diego resulted in poor attendance with the team averaging only 4,500 fans per game. Sterling subsequently lobbied the NBA to relocate the team to his native Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles years (1984-present)編輯
In 1984, the Clippers moved to Los Angeles, California, playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The Clippers, under head coach Jim Lynam (and later Don Chaney) and new acquisitions Marques Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, and Harvey Catchings (all acquired via trade from the Milwaukee Bucks), finished with a disappointing 31-51 record in the first season in the City of Angels.
The Clippers were mired in futility for the next seven seasons, including a 12-70 record in the 1986-87 season, at the time the second-worst single-season record in NBA history (narrowly avoiding the all-time worst record of 9-73 set by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1972-73). That particular season was filled with injuries to both Marques Johnson and guard Norm Nixon, who missed most, if not the whole, season. Nixon's injury was particularly frustrating, not happening on the court, but during a softball game in New York's Central Park. That season also brought in Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor as the team's vice president and general manager of basketball operations, a post he currently holds. In the 1989-90 season, Baylor made a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that brought Ron Harper, a rising star guard, in exchange for forward Danny Ferry (who refused to play for the Clippers) and swingman Reggie Williams. That move, along with the 1987 NBA Draft of Ken Norman from the University of Illinois, the 1988 draftings of University of Kansas forward Danny Manning and Charles Smith from the University of Pittsburgh, and the 1990 NBA Draft of Loy Vaught from the University of Michigan formed a nucleus that made the franchise a playoff contender.
Midway through the 1991-92 season, the Clippers made yet another coaching change, but this one worked out in their favor. Larry Brown, who was fired by the Spurs weeks before, was hired as the team's head coach in late January 1992. He replaced Mike Schuler, who had led the team to a 22-25 record before his firing. Brown finished the season with a 23-12 mark, for an overall record of 45-37. It was the franchise's first winning season in 13 years (their first in Los Angeles). The Clippers advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years (since they were still in Buffalo), but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Utah Jazz, 3-2. Due to the late April 1992 Los Angeles riots, game 4 of their series was moved to the Anaheim Convention Center, and the Clippers won that game. The Clippers returned to the playoffs again in the 1992-93 season with a 41-41 regular season record, and again lost in five games in the first round, this time to the Houston Rockets.
Brown left the Clippers to join the Indiana Pacers as their head coach, and Bob Weiss was brought in to replace him. That 1993-94 season proved to be one of the worst seasons in Los Angeles NBA history, with both the Clippers and Lakers going a combined 60-104 in the regular season, missing the playoffs entirely. The Clippers continued to make frequent roster and coaching changes throughout the next several years and made their last playoff appearance in 1997. That team made the playoffs with a losing record (36-46) and were swept in the first round by the eventual Western Conference Champion Utah Jazz, 3-0.
However, in 1999, the Clippers and Lakers both started to play in the Staples Center. It was in that first season at Staples Center that the Clippers drafted highly-touted, but oft-troubled, star forward Lamar Odom from the University of Rhode Island. The Clippers finished with a dismal 15-67 record. To help their young players out with their growing pains, the team hired former All-Star (and Los Angeles native) Dennis Johnson, who won three NBA championships with the Seattle (1979) and Boston (1984 and 1986) as an assistant coach. The team also hired Hall of Famer and former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as an assistant coach, to help tutor second-year center Michael Olowokandi, who was the #1 overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. Johnson remained an assistant coach until the middle of the 2002-03 season, when he took over as head coach. Abdul-Jabbar lasted only one season on the job.
The 2000-01 season brought more changes. Atypically these would be for the better. Reserve forward Derek Strong, along with other players and cash, was sent to the Orlando Magic in exchange for second-year forward Corey Maggette and the draft rights to guard Keyon Dooling from the University of Missouri. Making more moves, the Clippers' two draft picks that year were childhood friends from Illinois: high schooler Darius Miles from East St. Louis (3rd overall pick) and Quentin Richardson, a guard/forward from DePaul University (18th overall pick). The team became popular among fans with their high-flying style of basketball and the Clippers did improve a bit with a 31-51 record, leading the NBA in bench-scoring with 37 points per game.
To improve upon the previous season, the Clippers acquired high-scoring and rebounding power forward Elton Brand from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the draft rights to Los Angeles-area native and high schooler Tyson Chandler. At this point of his career, Brand had career averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in just two seasons. Brand's hard work and accomplishments earned him a spot on the 2002 NBA Western Conference All-Star team as an injury replacement for center Shaquille O'Neal of the Lakers. The Clippers contended for most of the season, but won only 3 out of their last 13 games and finished 39-43, 5 games out of the final playoff position.
The 2002 offseason brought more changes, as Miles was traded to the Cavaliers in exchange for point guard Andre Miller, who led the NBA in assists in 2001-02 with 11 per game. Suddenly, with a good point guard in Miller, the playmaker Lamar Odom at small forward, one of the league's best power forwards, Elton Brand, the emerging center Michael Olowokandi, and a very good supporting cast off the bench, the Clippers could actually make a serious run for the playoffs. However, with poor team chemistry and injuries (the Clippers lost 293 man-games to injury), the Clippers finished with a very disappointing 27-55 record. Head coach Alvin Gentry was replaced by Dennis Johnson midway through the 2002-03 season.
In the 2003-04 season, the Clippers lost many of their core players to free agency (Miller, Odom, Olowokandi, and forward Eric Piatkowski--one of the longest-tenured players in Clippers history), while opting to retain Brand and Maggette with long-term contracts. They, along with Richardson, made of one of the NBA best high-scoring trios, with a combined 58 points per game. With new head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr., the Clippers finished at 28-54, a lot due to inexperience and injuries.
The 2004-05 season proved to be a turning point in the relative standings of the two Los Angeles franchises as the Clippers finished 37-45. The Lakers, because of the trade of O'Neal to the Miami Heat and the losses of projected future Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, forward Karl Malone, and guard Gary Payton, ended the season with 34-48 record and missed the playoffs. The Clippers, although also missing the playoffs, ended with a better record than the Lakers for the first time since 1993 and have great hope for the future, with young rising stars such as Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and Shaun Livingston. One bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season was forward Bobby Simmons winning the 2004-05 NBA Most Improved Player award after averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. As a result of that, Simmons cashed in on his newfound fame, and signed a 5-year, $47 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks in July 2005, playing closer to his hometown of Chicago.
To counter Simmons' defection to Milwaukee, the Clippers announced days later that they would sign guard Cuttino Mobley (formerly of Houston, Orlando, and most recently Sacramento) to a contract similar in years (5) but less in money ($42 million) to what Simmons received from the Bucks. Mobley's signing would give the Clippers what they missed in recent years since Piatkowski departed Los Angeles for Houston (and later ended up in Chicago), which is consistent outside shooting, plus a good defensive player at shooting guard, which is something else the Clippers have lacked in recent years as well. Mobley is also the first significant free agent signing from outside the organization since Bill Walton in late 1970s. Mobley officially signed his contract on August 3, 2005.
More deals were made, most notably on August 12, 2005, where the Clippers traded guards Marko Jaric (in a sign and trade transaction) and Lionel Chalmers to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for guard Sam Cassell and a lottery-protected 1st round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. In relation to the lottery-protected pick, in order for the Clippers to acquire the pick, the Timberwolves would have to make the playoffs, or else Minnesota retains its draft pick.
During the summer of 2005, the Clippers announced that they would build a state-of-the-art practice facility (the first NBA practice facility within the four corners of the City of Los Angeles) in the Playa Vista development. Several current players on the Clipper's lineup live in the planned community. According to the Clipper's website , the new facility will open its doors for community programs in the off-season and will be surrounded by other community parks and recreation.
The Los Angeles Clippers 2005-2006 Season編輯
The 2005-06 season was a turning point for the team's overall image; a hot start marked by several wins over top teams caught the attention of many fans. Elton Brand was chosen as a reserve power forward for the All-Star Game and articles have been run in many sports magazines giving recognition to the much improved team. Just before the NBA trading deadline, the Clippers traded power forward Chris Wilcox to the Seattle SuperSonics for forward Vladimir Radmanovic. The Clippers had been lacking consistent outside shooting which is what they were looking for in the trade.
While the Clippers had a few stretches of poor play this season, resulting in some frustrating losses, they nonetheless were able to maintain a solid record, including posting several winning streaks. The Clippers achieved their first winning record in 14 seasons and clinched their first playoff spot since 1997.
By finishing sixth in the Western Conference, with a record of 47-35 (their best finish since the team left Buffalo), the Clippers benefitted from the current NBA playoff format of regular season records taking precedence over winning the division, and secured home court advantage over the Denver Nuggets instead of travelling to Denver for four games as a #6 seed would usually be expected to do. On April 12, 2006 the Clippers were #5 seed and would have played against the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs, but the Clippers lost 5 of their next 7 games and the Memphis Grizzlies clinched the #5 position instead.
On April 22, 2006 the Clippers won their first NBA playoff game in 13 years. Two days later, they won their second playoff game, going 2-0 against an opponent for the first time in franchise history. Although they won the first 2 games, they lost Game 3, but they won Game 4. On Monday, May 1, 2006 they won Game 5 and their first playoff series since they moved from Buffalo.
The team faced the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals. After losing in game one (130-123 in Phoenix), the Clippers beat the Suns in an impressive 122-97 victory in Game 2. The series shifted to Staples Center for game 3, and the Suns beat the Clippers, 94-91, as Suns forward Shawn Marion scored 32 points and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds. In game four, Elton Brand posted 30 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Clippers evened the series on May 14, 2006 with a 114-107 victory over the Suns. In game five, Suns guard/forward Raja Bell made a key 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left in the first overtime to send the game into an second overtime. Phoenix beat Los Angeles in this double-overtime "thriller" game, 125-118.
The double-overtime loss for the Clippers, to say the least, was devastating, but they bounced back with a convincing, series-saving 118-106 Game 6 win over the Suns. 2nd-year defensive specialist Quinton Ross had his best offensive game as a pro so far, as he scored a career-high 18 points. Elton Brand had another excellent contribution, with 30 points (his series scoring average, at the present time), 12 rebounds, three assists, and five blocks. Corey Maggette came off the bench to score 25 points, with 7-8 shooting from the field, and 9-9 from the free throw line. Chris Kaman and Sam Cassell each scored 15 points apiece. Marion once again led Phoenix in scoring, with 34 points, with reserve guard Leandro Barbosa scoring 25 points off the bench for the Suns.
The Clippers lost the seventh game to Phoenix 127-107.
Mike Dunleavy, Sr. will be returning as head coach for next season.
The Clippers' popularity has skyrocketed over the past two years due to their ability to trump the Lakers record over the past few seasons. With no place to go but up, the enthusiasm of the Clippers' fans has rejuvenated a cause thought to be lost. Although the Los Angeles Lakers have won 14 championships (including the Minneapolis Lakers championships), the Clippers advancing to the semi-finals of the playoffs is thought to be on par of past Lakers success amongst certain populations of Los Angeles basketball fans. Their newfound fan base has led to recent sellouts of the Staples Center and includes movie star Billy Crystal and television star Frankie Muniz.
Players of note 編輯
- 11 Bob McAdoo, C, 1973-77 (Buffalo Braves)
- 32 Bill Walton, C, 1979-85 (1979-84 with San Diego Clippers)
- 21 Dominique Wilkins, SF, 1994
- Dr. Jack Ramsay, Head Coach, 1973-76 (Buffalo Braves)
- Elgin Baylor, General Manager, 1986-present
McAdoo and Randy Smith (G, 1972-79, 1983-84) are also members of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Walton, a native of the San Diego area, is also a member of the San Diego Hall of Champions. Aside from Walton's one injury-plagued season in Los Angeles, no Los Angeles Clippers player has ever been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Not to be forgotten編輯
Commentators & broadcast outlets 編輯
- Ralph Lawler (television and radio play-by-play)
- Michael Smith (television and radio commentary)
- Lee Kline (radio halftime and postgame show host)
- Matt Pinto (radio play-by-play)
- Michael Eaves (sideline reporter and pregame host for telecasts on Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket)
- Jerome "Pooh" Richardson (pregame and postgame analyst for telecasts on Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket)
- Cable television: Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket (selected games air on Fox Sports Net West)
- Over-the-air television: KTLA (Channel 5, The WB)
- Radio: KTLK (1150 AM)
- Former Clippers announcers over the years include: Pete Arbogast, Mel Proctor, Ted Leitner, Bill Walton and Rory Markas.
On March 1, 2006 the Clippers held the New Orleans Hornets to an NBA record low 16 points in the second half of play. Previously, since the introduction of the shot clock, no point total for a half had been lower than 19. Coincidentally, one of three teams to have such a low point total in a half was the Clippers.
Duke Clippers: The Blue Devil Connection編輯
Over the years, there has been somewhat of a connection between the Duke University Blue Devils and the Clippers, although it could hardly be thought of as a pipeline.
Most recently, during the 2005-2006 season, the connection has been strong with Elton Brand, Daniel Ewing, and Corey Maggette on the roster. Also, Shaun Livingston was on the same roster. While Livingston never attended Duke, he was highly recruited by its coach, Mike Krzyzewski, and even accepted a scholarship before deciding to enter the 2004 NBA Draft. Coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. also has a connection. His son, Mike Jr. of the Golden State Warriors, also attended Duke.
Notoriously, the Clippers drafted Danny Ferry in the 1989 NBA Draft. However, Ferry refused to sign with the Clippers and opted to play in Italy. Subsequently, his draft rights were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Less known are Martin Nessley (1987-88) who played 35 games for the Clippers before being traded to Sacramento, Bob Bender (1979) drafted by the San Diego Clippers before his senior year and Bob Fleischer (1975) drafted by the Buffalo Braves. Bender and Fleischer never played for the franchise.
As an aside, it should be noted that Brand, along with Shane Battier of the Memphis Grizzlies and underclassman J.J. Redick, was selected by Duke coach Krzyzewski to be on the roster of the USA Basketball Senior National Team.
- Los Angeles Clippers official web site
- ClipperBlog.com - An up to the minute Los Angeles Clippers blog including commentary by fans
- Los Angeles Clippers News and Blog
- Los Angeles Clippers official summer league
- Los Angeles Clippers team page on basketball-reference.com
- Los Angeles Clippers team page on databasebasketball.com