The Los Angeles Clippers (and its predecessors) have sucked for a long time. The End.
With 55 characters to spare, that tweet could accurately sum up the entire franchise history of the Los Angeles Clippers better than I’ll be able to in the few paragraphs that follow.
The Buffalo Braves sucked. The San Diego Clippers sucked. Now the Los Angeles Clippers suck. The End.
That’s 39 characters to spare.
With only seven winning seasons as a NBA franchise in the thirty-nine seasons of existence, the Los Angeles Clippers define “suck.” The End.
The franchise began as the Buffalo Braves, where the team was sort of decent. Three sub-.500 seasons were followed by three super-.500 seasons with three consecutive playoff appearances (mostly thanks to MVP Bob McAdoo), but as would become typical of other Buffalo sports teams, they failed to get beyond the Conference Semifinals.
Buffalo acquired Moses Malone from Portland in 1976, but almost immediately traded him to Houston. Malone went on to win three MVP awards and a championship with Philadelphia.
Uncertainty about the team’s future home began in 1976, when it was rumored that the owner of the team wanted to move the franchise to Hollywood, Florida. When that deal fell through, a number of business deals led to a trade of franchises, brokered by David Stern, with the majority owners of the Braves and Celtics swapping controlling interests. The new owner of the Braves, a California native, wanted an NBA franchise in California, so he moved the team in 1978, which became the San Diego Clippers.
The San Diego Clippers posted a super-.500 record after the move in their first season. In this period, the team’s best player was World B. Free (née Lloyd Bernard Free), who averaged 28.8 PPG. But not even Bill Walton could save the terrible Clippers, who was plagued by foot injuries. Five losing seasons and average attendance below 5,000, the team was sold (again) and moved up the coast to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles was not better for the Clippers, as they went on to have seven more losing seasons, until they hired Larry Brown in the middle of the 1991-92 season, who managed to salvage the season and get the Clippers to the playoffs for the first time in sixteen years (which, in true Clippers fashion, they lost in the first round). The winning record of the team was the first in twelve years. Brown led the Clippers to “success” with another playoff appearance, but once again, the Clippers lost in the first round.
Fluke circumstances led to the Clippers advancing to the Western Conference Playoffs in 1996-97 with a losing record (36-46) but were swept by the Jazz in the postseason.
Then, the Clippers decided to get serious in the 2002-2003 seasons. Gathering Elton Brand and Andre Miller from other teams, in addition to a young Lamar Odom and Michael Olowokandi (the Candy Man and the Kandi Man, respectively), the Clippers had a shot at contending with the other teams in the Western Conference. But, in true Clippers fashion, they managed to screw it up, losing many of their players to injury, missing the playoffs (with a record of 27-55), and then in the offseason, lost their best players to free agency.
In the 2005-06 season, they traded Chris Wilcox to the SuperSonics for Vladimir Radmanović, which helped them as they qualified for the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and their first winning record in fourteen years. They defeated the Denver Nuggets in the first round (their first playoff series victory in thirty years), but lost to the Phoenix Suns in a thrilling fashion, taking game five to double overtime, eventually losing in seven games.
In the following season, the Clippers were expected to make another playoff appearance, but they finished just under .500, and subsequently did not qualify for the playoffs. This season was especially devastating as the Clippers lost Shaun Livingston to a season-ending injury (almost career-ending injury), jeopardizing the next season of the already dismal Clippers franchise. In 2007-2008, Elton Brand started the season on the disabled list, and the Clippers finished in last place in the Pacific Division (surprise!) yet again.
Last season brought many new player acquisitions: a five-year contract with Baron Davis (formerly of Golden State), as well as nine other players by trade, free agency, and the NBA Draft. Unfortunately for the Clippers, these new players didn’t help, as the Clippers did even worse in the 2008-2009 season.
Fun Fact: The Clippers all-time franchise record is 1146-2020 (.362). This is the worst winning percentage among all franchises who have played more than 500 games.
2008-2009 Record: 19-63 (4th Place in Pacific Division, 14th Place in Western Conference)
Coach: Mike Dunleavy, Sr.
- Baron Davis, G
- Eric Gordon, G
- Al Thornton, F
- Blake Griffin, PF (though initially listed as a bench player for preseason, we expect him to become a member of the starting lineup after recovering from his injury)
- Chris Kaman, C
- Blake Griffin: Will the #1 Draft Pick be a bust or a boom for the struggling Clippers franchise? Injury concerns linger.
- Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith: How will these T-Wolves fit into the Clippers system? A well-informed source tells me that “Craig Smith’s a beast.”
- How about all of last year? Another season that doesn’t crack the .250 winning percentage range is unacceptable. With any luck, there should be fewer losses this season. But then again, it’s the Clippers. See above.
“The Clippers came out and showed why they have the kind of record that they do.”
“We’re just the same old Clippers. That’s all we are. We’re just the same old Clippers. We want teams to continue to take us lightly.”
—Former Clippers player Sam Cassell, after overtime win against Toronto.
- Sacramento Kings
- Washington Wizards
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Golden State Warriors
- New York Knicks
- Toronto Raptors