The theme for SB Nation's themed posts this week is Disappointment Day, with bloggers for each team writing about their franchise's biggest disappointment. There aren't a lot of areas where historically the Los Angeles Clippers have excelled, but they've really been a model franchise in generating disappointment for their fans.
We discussed some potential disappointments Tuesday, which led to a poll of the Citizenry Wednesday, and from the many potential disappointments across franchise history, three in particular stand out. In the poll, with over 400 votes cast, a couple of percentage points separate the top three candidates, with each of them receiving more than three times as many votes as the next closest vote getter.
And fine choices they are also: Baron Davis, Andre Miller and Michael Olowokandi were all massive disappointments in their Clipper careers. These all such good choices, I'm having trouble deciding between them. So let's talk about all three.
We'll start with Andre Miller.
In 2001-2002, the Clippers had won 39 games and competed for a playoff spot late into the season. They had done so with Lamar Odom missing most of the season and with a glaring weakness in their lineup at point guard. Jeff McInnis was the Clippers starting point guard that season, but clearly the team needed an upgrade to compete at the next level.
When the front office swung an offseason trade that sent Darius Miles to Cleveland for Miller it seemed like the perfect solution. Miles was an exciting young talent, but with Elton Brand, Odom, Corey Maggette and Quentin Richardson also available at forward for the Clippers, he was expendable.
Meanwhile Miller had led the league in assists the previous season while posting a PER close to 22. A young up-and-coming team that was seemingly one point guard away from competing had just traded for arguably the best young point guard in the league -- and Miller was an L.A. native to boot, a product of Verbum Dei High School. It was an ideal solution, and expectations for the 2002-2003 Clippers were understandably through the roof. I mean, think about this lineup -- Miller, Richardson, Odom, Brand and Olowokandi, with Maggette, Eric Piatkowski and Marko Jaric coming off the bench. It still looks impressive a decade later.
Miller proceeded to have the worst season of his career during his single season with the Clippers. Clipper announcers Ralph Lawler and Mike Smith joke to this day about the taciturn Miller, who barely spoke to them all season. Perhaps it was because he had grown up a Laker fan and had developed an aversion to the Clippers in his youth (though one might have expected that a professional basketball player would have transcended that to, you know, do his job), but Miller clearly wanted no part of a Clippers career.
As it happens, Miller, despite an outstanding 13 year career, has never achieved anything close to the level of productivity from his final season in Cleveland, so it turns out he was never truly the player the Clippers hoped they were getting. But he's also never been as bad as he was in L.A. before or since. Miller is not solely responsible for the disastrous 02-03 season that saw a young and talented team lose two of every three games and finish 27-55. Practically every key player on the Clippers roster was a free agent in 2003, and the resulting team dynamic was a disaster from the beginning. But point guards are supposed to be leaders, so the surly Miller rightly gets much of the blame for the poisonous locker room climate.
Miller himself was one of those many free agents, so needless to say it was his only season as a Clipper. He signed a free agent contract with Denver in July 2003. There's little question that Miller (thanks in part to plays like this) remains one of the most hated players in Clips Nation.