Every week Citizen Ray Samora brings us, "This Week in Clipper History!"
Better late than never, I guess. Three years after Donald Sterling moved the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles without the approval of the NBA, David Stern welcomed the team to LA and wished them luck. The NBA had sued Donald Sterling (who would have thought, right) to force him to move the team back to San Diego. Sterling did what Sterling did best, and fought the suit. Eventually, the NBA and Sterling settled out of court, with Sterling agreeing to pay the NBA $6 million, and the NBA giving their blessing to the team to stay in Los Angeles.
The best part of this story though, is Stern's official statement. Before your read it, make sure you set your iPod to "The Godfather" soundtrack. Is it playing? Okay, then proceed:
"Now that the Clippers are here by the vote and authorization of the NBA Board of Governors, I'm here to welcome them to Los Angeles and wish them well. This was a family dispute that was settled within the family. They've paid for the right to occupy Los Angeles."
Back in 1988, the Clippers signed the tallest player to ever sign a NBA contract. Was it Manute Bol? Nope, he was already under contract with the Golden State Warriors. Oh, and he was only 7'7". Was it Gheorghe Muresan? No. Billy Crystal's Giant was just a 17 year old teenager living in Romania. And he too was only 7'7".
The tallest player signed to an NBA contract was George Bell, out of Biola University in La Mirada, CA, at 7'8" tall. At one point in his life, he held the Guinness World Record as the tallest living American. Unfortunately, he didn't make the team, and was cut just 4 days later.
John "Hot Plate" Williams was a talented but weight-troubled player that the Clippers acquired by trading William Bedford and the draft rights to Don McLean to the Washington Bullets. "Hot Plate" was talented. He was one of, if not the first, point forwards in the NBA. He had all-all around skills, averaging 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game for his career. Unfortunately, weight problems brought his career to an end. With the Clippers, he was listed at 6'8" and 295 pounds. I remember watching him play, and he was probably over 300 pounds.
Coming off an exciting playoff run in 2006, the Clippers were chosen to participate in the NBA Europe Live Tour during the pre-season for the 2006-07 season. They became the first NBA team to play in Moscow since 1988. Unfortunately for the boys in red, white & blue, they couldn't keep up with the 2006 Euroleague champions. CSKA Moscow, led by former USC standout Trajan Langdon, and lost 94-75.
After the European tour, the Clippers got off to a hot start, winning 6 of their first 8 games, before sputtering at the end of the season (possibly due to fatigue) to finish 40-42, missing out on the playoffs.
Blake Griffin returned to the court for his first game action since he was sidelined for an entire season, injuring his knee in the final pre-season game of 2009. He played 22 minutes, scoring 9 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. Not bad after not seeing game action for almost an entire year. Yet there is no mention of him in the Clips Nation game recap.