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LA Clippers

LA Clippers Summary

The LA Clippers are in their third home city in franchise history, having been formed as the Buffalo Braves for the 1970-71 NBA season before moving to San Diego and then Los Angeles. The team has been in its current home city since 1984, though it is still in pursuit of the first championship for the franchise.

The current team has a pair of superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, though injuries have slowed the team’s progress toward the championship level. Even last season’s run to the Western Conference finals – the first-ever appearance for the team – was without George, who suffered a knee injury earlier in the playoffs and won’t be back until partway through the 2021-22 campaign.

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LA Clippers History

The Buffalo Braves were an expansion team – one of three at the time – added to the NBA for the 1970-71 season. The team had some early success, especially in the draft, using the No. 2 pick in 1972 on Bob McAdoo, who was named Rookie of the Year. The following season, guard Ernie DiGregorio won the award for the Braves, who advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 1973-74.

McAdoo was the NBA MVP in 1974-75, with the Braves again making the postseason. The team continued to stockpile young talent with the selection of Notre Dame’s Adrian Dantley, who was the Rookie of the Year in 1976-77. The team made the move west prior to the 1978-79 season, becoming the San Diego Clippers.

The team tried to make a splash in the free-agent market, signing center Bill Walton in 1979, but even with the former league MVP on board – and Rookie of the Year Terry Cummings being drafted in 1982 – the Clippers failed to reach the postseason while in San Diego. After six years, the team moved north to Los Angeles prior to the 1984-85 campaign.

Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981 and promised to spend what it took to bring the franchise a championship. Unfortunately, over the years, Sterling was quite the opposite, being found to have paid players late and treated them badly, and the on-court product reflected that. The Clippers failed to make the postseason in 15 straight seasons before finally breaking through in 1991-92.

That team featured players like Danny Manning, Ron Harper, Doc Rivers, Loy Vaught, and Charles Smith. Unfortunately, after two straight first-round exits, the Clippers went back to being outside of the playoff field for another three seasons and 11 of the next 12 campaigns.

A playoff appearance by the 2005-06 squad, led by players like Elton Brand, Sam Cassell, Corey Maggette, and Cuttino Mobley, resulted in the first-ever postseason series victory for the franchise, as the Clippers defeated the Denver Nuggets in five games. The team again had trouble maintaining its success, missing the postseason in the next five campaigns.

Things started to change for the better in 2009 when the team drafted Blake Griffin with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. A knee injury delayed his NBA debut for a year, but when he did hit the court, he made an immediate impact, winning the 2010-11 Rookie of the Year award.

The team also had another young big man with 2008 draft pick DeAndre Jordan, with both being high-fliers around the hoop. The 2011 offseason saw the team acquire point guard Chris Paul in a trade with the New Orleans Hornets, and the team’s exciting “Lob City” identity was forged. The team became known for its alley-oop dunks by Jordan and Griffin, and the exciting play was also successful, as the team returned to the postseason in 2012.

The group was a perennial playoff team, with Doc Rivers joining the team as head coach in the 2013 offseason. The Clippers looked like a top title contender in the 2013-14 season, but the 2014 playoff run was marred by the public revelation of racist comments by Sterling, causing protests by the team in the middle of their series with the Golden State Warriors.

Sterling was forced out of his ownership position, and the team was sold to billionaire Steve Balmer. Despite the new ownership, the team could not get past the second round of the postseason, and Paul was traded away in 2017, with Griffin being dealt to the Detroit Pistons midway through the 2018-19 campaign.

The team reloaded in the 2019 offseason with the signing of coveted free agent Kawhi Leonard and the trade for Paul George, giving the Clippers a pair of superstars to build around. Los Angeles played well early in the season, but the COVID-19 break slowed some of the team’s momentum, and it fell in a seven-game conference semifinal series in the Orlando bubble to the Denver Nuggets, blowing a 3-1 lead.

Rivers departed after the 2019-20 season, with Tyronn Lue taking over on the bench. Los Angeles lost Leonard to a knee injury during the conference semifinal round in 2021 but still pulled the upset of the top-seeded Utah Jazz, advancing to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history before falling to the Phoenix Suns.

2021-22 Key Stats

The Clippers enter the 2021-22 campaign coming off their most successful postseason run in franchise history. The question is how soon Leonard will be able to come back from his knee injury, which is supposed to keep him sidelined for at least a couple of months of the regular season.

Championships Won by the LA Clippers

The Clippers have yet to win a league title or even a conference crown. Los Angeles has won the Pacific Division twice, taking the championship in back-to-back seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14. 

Individually, the Clippers have had a league MVP, five Rookie of the Year winners, and five Sixth Man of the Year award winners. Bob McAdoo was the NBA MVP in 1974-75 when the franchise was playing as the Buffalo Braves.

The franchise practically owned the Sixth Man of the Year award in the late 2010s, with five of seven winners playing for Los Angeles from 2013-14 to 2019-20. Jamal Crawford earned the honors in 2013-14 and 2015-16, while Lou Williams took the award in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Montrezl Harrell was named the award winner for the 2019-20 campaign.

Three players won the Rookie of the Year award while the franchise was the Buffalo Braves, with McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio earning the honor in back-to-back seasons (1972-73 and 1973-74), and Adrian Dantley being named the winner in 1976-77. Terry Cummings won with the San Diego Clippers in 1982-83, and Blake Griffin has been the only winner while the team has played in Los Angeles in 2009-10.

Important Team Events

The Clippers franchise had a significant move in 2011, settling on a trade with the New Orleans Hornets for point guard Chris Paul after the cross-town rival Los Angeles Lakers had a deal for Paul nixed by the league office just days before. Paul made an immediate impact, helping the team to its most successful era, including postseason series wins in three out of four seasons.

That run was marred by the ousting of owner Donald Sterling after his racist comments were made public during the 2014 playoffs. The team’s players were uncertain if they wanted to boycott the postseason or not, but they decided to play, defeating the Golden State Warriors in the first round in seven games before falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semifinals.

Top Players

The best player in Clippers history was never with the team in California, as Bob McAdoo’s career with the franchise was all played in Buffalo. McAdoo was the league MVP in 1974-75 amidst his run of three straight scoring titles. McAdoo played four-plus seasons for the Braves, averaging 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game.

One of the greatest point guards in league history, Chris Paul added to his legacy in his six seasons with the Clippers, leading the NBA in assists twice and earning five All-NBA honors, including three first-team nods. Paul was also a five-time All-Star with the Clippers, helping the team to the conference semifinals three times, and he remains the franchise’s all-time assists leader.

Elton Brand spent seven seasons with the Clippers, averaging 20.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. The power forward was a two-time All-Star and earned second-team All-NBA honors in 2005-06 and was part of the 2005-06 squad that earned the team’s first postseason series victory.

Top Coaches

A former Clippers player, Doc Rivers came to the team as head coach in a trade with the Boston Celtics prior to the 2013-14 season and helped the franchise to six playoff appearances in his seven years on the bench. Los Angeles won a playoff series in three of those appearances, and Rivers is the franchise leader in both regular-season and postseason victories as head coach.

Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay took over in 1972 as coach of the Buffalo Braves, and he helped turn the expansion team into a perennial playoff squad in his four seasons on the bench. Ramsay’s squads were in the postseason three times in his four years with the franchise, and he ranks third on the Clippers’ all-time list of regular-season coaching victories.

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LA Clippers Frequently Asked Questions

Randy Smith scored 12,735 points in his eight-plus seasons with the Clippers, the most in franchise history.

The Clippers have had the NBA Rookie of the Year award winner five times: Bob McAdoo (1972-73), Ernie DiGregorio (1973-74), Adrian Dantley (1976-77), Terry Cummings (1982-83), and Blake Griffin (2009-10).

The Clippers have never won an NBA title, with the 2020-21 squad coming the closest with a trip to the Western Conference finals.

Doc Rivers won 356 regular-season games as the coach of the Clippers, the most in franchise history.

The Clippers have picked No. 1 in the NBA Draft three times, taking Danny Manning (1988), Michael Olowokandi (1998), and Blake Griffin (2009).

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