Los Angeles Clippers
Originally, the Clippers weren’t even based in California. As the Buffalo Braves, they emerged in the NBA scene in 1970. Led by talents like Randy Smith and Bob McAdoo, the team made their mark by earning three playoff berths after their first three seasons.
The Buffalo Braves Era
By 1978, an unprecedented franchise swap with the Boston Celtics led the team to relocate to San Diego, taking on the name San Diego Clippers. However, success remained elusive, and the team consistently found themselves at the bottom of the league standings.
Transition to San Diego
In 1981, the winds of change blew again. Sold to Donald Sterling, the Clippers were relocated to Los Angeles in 1984. But even in a new home, victories remained hard to come by.
Struggles in Los Angeles
Not until 1991, with forward Danny Manning leading the charge, did they manage to secure a playoff berth, only to face defeat in the first round. Unfortunately, the following years weren’t much kinder to the Clippers.
Hope Rises in the 2000s
By the mid-2000s, signs of change were in the air. The 2005-06 season saw the team, with Elton Brand and Chris Kaman at the helm, securing 47 wins. They reached the second round of the playoffs, only to be outplayed by the Phoenix Suns. However, many viewed the Clippers as the NBA’s underperforming team, given their limited success over 27 years post their move to Los Angeles.
The Era of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin
The game changed before the 2011-12 season. Acquiring superstar Chris Paul turned out to be a turning point. Teaming up with Blake Griffin, the Clippers reached the conference semifinals. By the 2012-13 season, they notched up a team-record 56 wins, capturing their first division title.
A playoff disappointment led to another change: Doc Rivers, who had led the Boston Celtics to an NBA championship, was brought in as coach. Under his guidance, the team reached new heights in the subsequent season.
Controversies and a New Ownership
The 2013-14 playoffs brought unexpected turmoil. Racist comments from owner Donald Sterling cast shadows over the organization. The NBA took the extraordinary step of banning Sterling for life.
Following legal wrangles, the team was sold to Steve Ballmer in 2014, a deal-breaking record at $2 billion.
Consistent Performance but Playoff Heartbreaks
Under the new ownership, the Clippers displayed commendable regular-season performances. The 2014-15 season saw them defeating the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs’ first round. However, a lead lost against the Houston Rockets in the next round ended their campaign.
Subsequent seasons saw similar patterns: commendable regular-season records but playoff disappointments. The team’s 2017 playoff loss made NBA history, marking them as the first team to lose five consecutive postseason series that they had once led.
Key players like Paul and Griffin departed, ending their six-season playoff streak in 2017–18. Against expectations, the Clippers returned to the playoffs in 2018–19, demonstrating resilience against the Golden State Warriors.
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