The Los Angeles Clippers have long been considered L.A.’s “other” NBA team. The team plays its home games in the Staples Center, just like the Lakers, but they aren’t associated with the same kind of glamour as the Lakers. The reason? Championships.
The Early Years
The Clippers joined the NBA in 1970, under the name Buffalo Braves. They played in upstate New York until 1978. At the end of the 1978 season, the team was relocated to San Diego, Calif., and renamed the San Diego Clippers.
The Clippers had a winning record in 1978-79, posting a 43-39 record, but it would be a while – 13 years, in fact – before they would have another winning season.
After the 1983-84 season, another unsuccessful campaign, owner Donald Sterling asked for and obtained the right to more the Clippers to Los Angeles.
The Clippers have yet to win an NBA championship and went an astounding 13 years without even reaching the playoffs. In 1991-92, new head coach Larry Brown led them to a regular-season record of 45-37. The Utah Jazz bounced the Clippers in five games, but things were looking up.
The Clippers went .500 (41-41) the following year, but lost to the Houston Rockets in the first round. The itinerant coach Brown left the Clippers after that season, to be replaced by Bob Weiss. Weiss lasted a season before being fired and replaced by Bill Fitch. Fitch got the Clippers to the playoffs in 1997, but they suffered another first-round loss, to the Utah Jazz.
In the 2005-06 season, led by power forward Elton Brand and swingman Corey Maggette, the Clippers posted a 47-35 record and made the playoffs. They beat the Denver Nuggets in five games to win their first playoff series since their Buffalo days. The Clippers fell to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinal in seven games.
The 2007-08 campaign was a rocky one for the Clippers. Their woes actually began the season before, when talented young point guard Shaun Livingston dislocated his knee in a gruesome, non-contact injury. Elton Brand also ruptured his left Achilles tendon, putting him out of action for much of the 2007-08 season. As a result, the team was never competitive in the tough Western Conference. They posted a 23-59 record and finished 12th in the conference. What’s more, after the season, Elton Brand departed for the Philadelphia 76ers and Maggette bolted to the Golden State Warriors.
With Brand and Maggette gone, and an influx of new players, the 2008-09 Clippers will hardly be recognizable. Point guard Baron Davis signed with the team in July (reportedly under the impression that Brand would stay). Center Marcus Camby was acquired from the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers have also signed veteran scorer Ricky Davis, and drafted Indiana star guard Eric Gordon with the 7th pick in this year’s draft. With an overhauled roster, head coach Mike Dunleavy has his work cut out for him, especially in the super-competitive West, where the Lakers, Hornets, Suns, Jazz, and Spurs all have their own respective plans to wrest the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy from the hands of the Boston Celtics.