Congratulations to the Los Angeles Clippers on Winning First Division Title: Putting the Achievement in Context
It truly has been a remarkable year for the Los Angeles Clippers, as became evident during their 17 game winning streak, with their sweep of the Lakers by an average of 13.5 points providing the exclamation point. They have set a franchise record for wins (51), winning percentage (.662) and have won their first division title. Now they have high expectations to meet for the post-season.
It is An Important Break From an Ignonominous Past
It is a simple fact that for much of history, whether in Buffalo, San Diego or Los Angeles, the Clippers have simply stunk. As the chart to the left shows, they put the U in sucked. My first Clipper game was at the Sports Arena during a particularly dark period. I moved my seats to get slightly closer. When an usher approached to ask to see my ticket, I said “c’mon man, its the Clippers” and he responded – “good point.” A list of the worst NBA teams of all time usually includes one or more Clipper teams. In 44 years, they have won less than 30 games 15 times.
The Clippers came into the league in 1970 with the Portland Trailblazers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 1976, Cleveland became the first of the three to win a division and in 1978 Portland became the first to win an NBA title. Cleveland would not make it to the NBA finals until 2007 and it has yet to win. In contrast, the Clippers have never even played in the Conference Finals.
Surpasses 1975 Buffalo Braves’ 49 Wins
The prior record for wins was held by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves that featured Most Valuable Player Bob McAdoo, along with a back court of Randy Smith and 1974 Rookie of the Year Ernie Diegregorio and forwards Gar Heard and Jim McMillan. The Braves took the eventual conference champion Washington Bullets to the limit, with McAdoo scoring 50 points in a Game 4 win.
Surpasses 2006 Clippers’ 47 Wins
The prior high mark for the Clippers in Los Angeles was the explosive 2006 Clipper team that won the franchise’s first playoff series since moving to Los Angeles. Led by Elton Brand and Sam Cassell, with Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, Cuttino Mobley and Shaun Livingston also playing key roles, the Clippers opened the playoffs by taking the Denver Nuggets in 5 games and then battled the Phoenix Suns for 7 games. The Clippers might have advanced to the Conference Finals were it not for some key mistakes in Game 5 that prevented them from heading home to the Staple Center with a chance to clinch.
Surpasses 2012 Winning Percentage
Last year’s squad set a franchise record with a .606 win percentage and finished only a game behind the division-wining Lakers, but because it was a strike-shortened season they did not break the prior win total record. The highlight of the 2012 season had to be their amazing 22-point 4th quarter comeback in Game 1 of their first round series against Memphis which they won in 7 games. The series seemed to exhaust the Clippers who were swept by the Spurs in the second round.