It's that time of the week again. A chance to go back in time, when newspapers were still a physical, finger blackening thing. We are going back in time to revisit some classic Clippers news. Enjoy!
Fresh off an ABA finals appearance, the Denver Nuggets entered the 1976-77 NBA season, their first, on fire, winning their first 8 games. So much for the ABA being the lesser of the two professional basketball leagues. Riding that 8 game winning streak, the Nuggets traveled to Buffalo to face the Braves, who came in with a record of 5 wins and 4 losses. The Braves had 6 players score 10 or more points (Bob McAdoo 22, Adrian Dantley 19, Ernie DiGregorio 17, Randy Smith 14, John Shumate 11, Don Adams 10), and beat the Denver Nuggets, lead by game high scorer David Thompson (36), 105-94, giving Denver their first loss as a member of the NBA.
Danny Manning, the original franchise hope, was the number one pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. Fresh off winning a national championship at Kansas, the Clippers had a lot of hope that Manning would be the franchise cornerstone for many years. Unfortunately, signing him to his first NBA contract wasn't easy. Manning missed all of training camp and pre-season, while his agent, Ron Grinker, and the Clippers negotiated the details of his first contract. He even missed the opportunity to play a pre-season game at Phog Allen Fieldhouse at the University of Kansas.
Eventually the sides agreed to a five year, $10.5 million dollar contract. To kick off his five and a half year Clippers career, Manning helped lead the Clippers to a 138-127 victory over the Phoenix Suns at the Sports Arena, scoring 12 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in 27 minutes.
The mid to late 90's were not a particular golden period for the Clippers. After making back-to-back playoff appearances in 91-92 and 92-93, the Clippers reverted back to the laughing stock of the league, going 135-325 to finish off the decade. The lone bright spot, if you can call it that, was their participation in the 1996-97 NBA playoffs, making it as the eighth seed with a record of 36-46.
But for many Clippers fans, those years are what made us who we are. The balance of optimism and pessimism. Names like Loy Vaught, Pooh Richardson, Tony Massenburg, Rodney Rogers and Bo Outlaw (still my favorite name) might not have been well known, even to very knowledgeable NBA fans, but for us Clippers fans, those were our guys. We cheered them on to few victories, and we loved them.
One additional name has to be added to that list: Malik Sealy. He was the typical Clippers player. Someone who had no shot on most NBA teams, but had a chance to make a career on the Red, White and Blue. After 2 seasons, and 7 starts with the Indiana Pacers, Sealy was traded to the Clippers, along with Pooh Richardson and Eric Piatkowski, for Mark Jackson and Greg Minor. Sealy turned his career around with the Clippers, starting 168 games in his 3 seasons with the team, and averaged 12.7 points and 1.4 steals per game.
Sealy would sign a free agent deal with the Pistons in 1997, and later joined the up and coming Minnesota Timberwolves, lead by Kevin Garnett, playing an integral role in their 50 win 1999-2000 season.
Unfortunately, his most successful NBA season was also his last. In the early morning of May 20, 2000, while driving home from an night of celebrating Kevin Garnett's birthday, Sealy was killed when a drunk driver, driving on the wrong side of the highway, crashed head on with Sealy's car, killing the 30 year old player. The drunk driver, Souksangouane Phengsene, survived the crash, and was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide. He was released in 2003, but continued to have problems staying off the road while intoxicated, and in 2008 was sentenced to more prison time after pleading guilty to two more drunk driving charges (don't drink and drive people!)
Sealy had his #2 jersey retired by the Timberwolves at the beginning of the 2000-01 season, the first and still only retired jersey for the team.
Shaun Livingston was the Clippers 1st round (4th overall) pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He joined the NBA straight out of Peoria Central High School, in Peoria, IL, which is also where Ralph Lawler was born. Livingston had the look and feel of a point guard, but with a taller frame. He stood 6'7", and with that height, he could easily see over the defense. He showed glimpses of hope in his rookie season, averaging 7.4 points and 5 assists per game.
But he could not stay healthy. He suffered a dislocated knee cap in that rookie season that kept him out from November 2004 to February 2005.
The date is November 13, 2013. The Clippers are playing a big early season game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in front of 19,273 at Staples Center. With 6.2 seconds to go in the second quarter, there is an altercation between Serge Ibaka and Blake Griffin. Matt Barnes comes to the defense of his teammate, and gets ejected for the rest of the game. This is the NBA, and if you get involved in an altercation, and have a history of altercations, you will probably get ejected.
It's Barnes' actions afterward that get him in trouble. During the second half, while his teammates are still in a battle with the Thunder, Barnes decided to take to Twitter, tweeting:
"I love my teammates like family, but I'm DONE standing up for these ... ! All this ... does is cost me money." (some inappropriate words were removed)
Barnes took the tweet down shortly after, but, as we have all learned, once something is on Twitter, it is there for good. The NBA took notice, and fined Barnes $25,000. Thankfully, Barnes has refrained from venting on Twitter, and has actually used it for good, when just this last off-season, he tweeted a picture of his aunt's murderer, which lead to his capture.