Los Angeles Clippers

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 13:08

History of Los Angeles Clippers

Information about the NBA team Los Angeles Clippers.

Filling the stadiums with streaks of red, white, and blue are the Los Angeles Clippers under its current head coach, Mike Dunleavy, Sr. Considered as among one of the oldest teams of the National Basketball Association (NBA), this franchise also tags along an extensive line of history featuring frequent fluctuations in its basketball reputation and having its own contributions to the NBA’s most notable star players of all time.

The begginnings of Clippers

The year 1970 saw the beginning of the California-based basketball league, the Los Angeles Clippers. Then about to hit the courts as the Buffalo Braves, the Clippers joined the NBA along with two other franchises, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes had the first Buffalo Braves coaching experience, joining basketball action with the team’s first star players, Bob Kauffman and Don May. The Braves didn’t start with a blast, garnering a 22-60 record on their first two seasons. However, star player Kauffman gained a place on the 1971 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team with his record of 20.4 points per game.

After struggling through in their first few games, the Braves soon began to set their pace and grab triumph after triumph under the legendary coach, Dr. Jack Ramsay, after high-scorer Bob McAdoo joined the team. In the 1973-74 season, the team finally had its first playoff experience, facing the Boston Celtics in the first round, though losing six games.

Bob McAdoo won as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in the following season, with an average of 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds, and 2.12 blocks per game, and shooting 80.5% from the free-throw line and 51.2% from the field

However, this basketball success receded when the organization changed ownership in the 1976-77 season, marking back-to-back losing seasons in their team’s game history.

Move to San Diego

After playing eight seasons at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, which they shared with National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres, the Braves were permitted to move to San Diego in the NBA’s 1977-78 season. This was according to a proposal made by David Stern, then an NBA attorney. The team’s owner, John Y. Brown, traded teams and places with Boston Celtics owner Irv Levin. The latter, pleased to have a team in his home state, immediately changed the team’s name into “the Clippers,” owing to San Diego’s characteristic seaside locale and harbor.

The Clippers entered the games as a powerful team, garnering 43 victories on their first season under its new head coach, Gene Shue. Though impressive, such a record still turned out to be short of NBA playoff quality, with the six Western Conference playoff teams tallying no less than 45.

After three years of impressive but unsuccessful Clipper seasons (still not making it to the playoffs), the Clippers again experienced another change of ownership. Donald T. Sterling, a real estate mogul and lawyer of the Beverly Hills, bought the team in June 1981. Despite the arrival of two new team assets, Terry Cummings and Tom Chambers, the Clippers still played short of playoff caliber. And with the team suffering injuries, and their box office numbers continuously making a nose dive, Sterling decided to relocate the team. He moved the team up north to Los Angeles in 1984, after suffering an average of less than 4,500 fans per game for the third consecutive season.

New season at the LA Sports Arena

The Los Angeles Clippers started their new season at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on November 1, 1984, beating the New York Knicks with a 107-105 win. They played in the arena for the next fifteen seasons, finally setting new records with the addition of NBA legend Elgin Baylor as the vice president of basketball operations. Within a decade, the team managed to hit the top spot in the overall draft picks twice.

The Clippers concluded their L.A. Sports Arena games in the 1998-99 season, moving to the downtown Los Angeles’ STAPLES Center for the 1999-00 season. The Clippers finished the season with a record of 15–67 though the team drafted University of Rhode Island’s star forward, Lamar Odom. The team also acquired a new assistant hired coach in the person of former All-Star Dennis Johnson.

In the 2001-02 season, The Clippers finished 5 games short of the final playoff place, though its new acquisition, Elton Brand, earned a spot in the 2002 NBA Western Conference All-Star team.

The 2005-06 season marked a new beginning for the Los Angeles Clippers, gathering wins over some of the best teams and catching the attention of several NBA fans. One player to be credited was newly drafted Yaroslav Korolev. And after 14 seasons of losses and failures, the Clippers finally made their way into the playoffs again for the first time since 1997. From that season, the L.A. Clippers began to beat their audience attendance records year after year, dazzling L.A. crowds with its new breed of young and talented players, and gaining better deals for Radio and Television. However, problems began to arise when the team suffered a five-game losing streak in November and a six-game losing streak on the following month.

Current standing

The 2008–09 season witnessed the departure of several team members, including Corey Maggette and Elton Brand, having acquired a number of injuries.

Throughout its franchise history, the Clippers played in a number of venues: the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (1970–1978), San Diego Sports Arena (1978–1984), Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (1984–1999), and Staples Center (1999–present). The team also had occasional games at the Maple Leaf Gardens (1971–1975) and the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (1994–1999).

Among the names etched on its hall of fame are Adrian Dantley (1976–78), Bob McAdoo (1973–77), Bill Walton (1979–85), and Dominique Wilkins (1994). Dr. Jack Ramsay, who was head coach from 1973 to 1976, and Elgin Baylor, who was general manager from 1986 to 2008, also made it to the list under the management category.

McAdoo and Randy Smith (1972-79, 1983-84) are also in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, while Walton also hit the San Diego Hall of Champions.

From the first time it participated in NBA’s expansion, the Clippers have gone through the hands of several head coaches. They were:

- Dolph Schayes (1970-72)
- John McCarthy (1972)
- Jack Ramsay (1972-76)
- Tates Locke (1976-77)
- Bob MacKinnon (1977)
- Joe Mullaney (1977)
- Cotton Fitzsimmons (1977-78)
- Gene Shue (1978-80; 1987-89)
- Paul Silas (1980-83)
- Jim Lynam (1983-85)
- Don Chaney (1985-87)
- Don Casey (1989-90)
- Mike Schuler (1990-92)
- Larry Brown (1992-93)
- Bob Weiss (1993-94)
- Bill Fitch (1994-98)
- Chris Ford (1998-2000)
- Jim Todd (2000)
- Alvin Gentry (2000-03)
- Dennis Johnson (2003)
- Mike Dunleavy, Sr. (2003-present)

Though the Clippers have the record of being the oldest NBA team with remarkable length of absence in the NBA finals, it also holds the record of having one of the biggest margins of defeat by an NBA team in at least 20 games over, when it beat the Utah Jazz with a score of 104-72 on March 23, 2007.

The Clippers haven’t bagged an NBA Championship, a Division Championship, or a Conference Championship. They share this record with the Charlotte Bobcats and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Today, the Los Angeles Clippers play in the NBA Western Conference's Pacific Division, sharing the Staples Center with the Los Angeles Lakers. Its official colors are red, white, and blue.