- NBA Championships: 0
- Last NBA Championship: N/A
- Claim to Fame: The Clippers have never lost a game in the NBA Finals.
- Claim to Shame: The Clippers have an embarrassment of riches to chose from, but taking Michael Olowokandi first overall in the 1998 NBA Draft is near the top. Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, and Dirk Nowitzki were all still available.
Every country has a sports team that it loves to make fun of. In America, it’s the Los Angeles Clippers. And in Russia… it’s the Los Angeles Clippers. LA’s “other team” has been so bad for so long that everyone around the world has heard about its ineptitude.
What you might not know is that the Clippers haven’t just been awful in one city; they’ve been awful in three. The franchise joined the NBA in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves and never advanced past the Eastern Conference Semifinals during their eight seasons in the Nickel City.
The Clippers’ string of poor performances continued unabated when the team relocated to San Diego in 1978. The newly christened “Clippers” failed to make the playoffs in all six seasons they spent in their new home and hit a new low in 1981-82 when they won just 17 games.
The Clippers were bought by LA real estate developer Donald Sterling in 1981 for the princely sum of $12.5 million, and relocated to Los Angeles three years later. Unfortunately, the new setting brought the same old results as the penny-pinching Sterling refused to sign pricey free agents and let many of the team’s talented young players leave via free agency. Not surprisingly, the Clippers made the playoffs just once between 1997 and 2011.
LA experienced enjoyed something of a renaissance beginning with the 2011-12 season, when the team won 40 games and advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals. Led by All-Stars Chris Paul, Blake, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, the “Lob City” Clippers averaged 54.5 wins over the next five seasons and qualified for the playoffs each year.
All three players have since moved on, but there’s hope on the horizon thanks to deep-pocked owner Steve Ballmer and emerging young players like Tobias Harris and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Clippers are still not as glamorous as the Lakers, but they’re no longer the league-wide laughingstock they were during much of the 80’s and 90’s.