Hello Clips Nation! Citizen Ray Samora here with the first, of hopefully many, looks into the history of our beloved Clippers. I will be working hard each week to find interesting, memorable, and crazy stories from newspapers past about the Los Angeles Clippers. This will be a way for our newer citizens to become familiar with the history of the franchise, and for the long time Clippers fans to reminisce on the ghosts of Clippers past. So, let's hop in our DeLorean and travel back in time, and look at this week in Los Angeles Clippers history:
Prior to the 1984-85 season, the Clippers moved from San Diego, up the I-5, to Los Angeles, and the already aging LA Sports Arena. One of their first big moves was a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, that saw Terry Cummings, Craig Hodges and Ricky Pierce go to Milwaukee for local favorite Marques Johnson, Junior Bridgeman and Harvey Catchings. I wonder who got the best of that deal?
Johnson would have two solid seasons with the Clippers, averaging 18.3 ppg, but his career was all but over after the 10th game of his 3rd season with the team. He suffered a severe neck injury during that 10th game against the Mavericks, and never played for the Clippers again. Junior Bridgeman played 2 seasons with the Clippers. averaging 11.8 ppg and shooting over 33% from three. Harvey Catchings never caught on with the team, playing just one season, before retiring from the NBA. He averaged 2.9 ppg that season.
For the Bucks, it was a steal. Terry Cumming averaged 19.4 ppg and 7.8 rpg in 6 seasons with the Bucks. He was an all-star in 1985 and 1989, and was on the all NBA 2nd team in 1985, and the 3rd team in 1989. Craig Hodges averaged 10.5 ppg with the Bucks, shooting over 40% from three in 4 seasons with them, leading the league in the 85-86 season, shooting over 45%. Ricky Pierce spent 8 seasons with Milwaukee, averaging 16.5 ppg, winning the 6th man of the Year award twice (1987 &1990) and was an all-star in 1991.
One of my favorite Clippers of all time, and, according to the Clippers Mt. Rushmore voting back in April, there are are quite a few citizens that agree! Loy Vaught was a solid, if not spectacular, lunchpail kind of guy. In his 8 seasons with the Clippers, he averaged 11.9 ppg and 8 rpg. In 4 seasons as a regular starter, he averaged 15.1 ppg and 9.6 rpg. He also was the leader on the 1997 Clippers, who made a rare (in those days) playoff appearance. And, who could forget about that sweet baseline jumper?
Good old Mark Jackson, formerly the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. He always had some dirty tricks up his sleeve for the Clippers. But for many young or new Clippers fans, it might be a shock that he was once the starting PG for the Clips. In fact, he once was excited to be a member of our beloved team. He was the floor general for the 92-93 Clippers playoff team. Sadly, he only lasted 2 seasons with the club, and was traded along with Greg Minor to the Indiana Pacers for Pooh Richardson, Malik Sealy and the draft rights to Eric Piatkowski.
The 2003-04 Clippers, although their record didn't show it, had the makings of something good. First year coach Mike Dunleavy seemed to give the club a little respect. He convinced Donald Sterling to open up his pocketbook and commit money to Elton Brand and Corey Maggette. This was the start of something good, and the team looked to improve in 2004-05. The big move of the off season was the trade that brought Kerry Kittles to the Clippers. No one can ever say that Kittles was injury free (he only played in 72% of the games in his career), but he was a veteran leader, with NBA Finals experience. It also helped that he played in all 82 games in two of the three seasons prior to the trade.
So what was the outcome? Kittles came into training camp injured, and never fully recovered. He tried to play, and was seen in 11 games from November 21 - January 17, but was just a shell of his former self. He averaged 6.3 ppg in those 11 games, and never saw the court again.
Oh, and by the way. To make room for Kittles, the Clippers had to renounce the rights to Quentin Richardson, who signed with the Phoenix Suns, and had a career year in 3 pointers made (226) while shooting over 35%.
When the Clippers drafted Blake Griffin in 2009, every Clipper fan hoped for the Clipper curse to be eradicated. Here was this beast of a man, with the athleticism and work ethic to become a franchise changer. There was no pick 1a and 1b. Griffin was the only number one pick in this draft. So when Griffin came into the Clippers training camp with a slight knee injury, no one, not even our own Steve Perrin, thought that this was anything major. Griffin was an athletic masterpiece. There was no way that this would be anything more than a little bump in the road. And that is all it was. Griffin played in the preseason, and he was amazing. Then, on the final game of the pre-season, he injured his knee coming down from a dunk, and would miss the start of the season. But he would be back, to lead us to the playoffs, right?