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Clippings: Remembering when the Clippers were on ‘Jeopardy!’

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In honor of the life of Alex Trebek, let’s take a walk down a very specific memory lane.

ABC’s “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time”

Alex Trebek was an icon in Los Angeles, one of the most recognizable celebrities in a city teeming with stars. His passing Sunday brought out lovely tributes from all walks of life, because Jeopardy! was arguably the truest arbiter of celebrity; having your name recited by Trebek was the clearest sign that you had made it.

The Clippers worked their way into a few clues over the years, dating all the way back to Feb. 6, 1987 with the following hint in the category “Time”:

“For the Los Angeles Lakers & Clippers, it’s Floyd Jensen, a man in his mid-sixties”

Evidently, Jensen was a timekeeper for both L.A. teams. That seems like an answer that would be much easier to provide 30 years ago than now.

Blake Griffin was the most frequent Clipper to appear on Jeopardy!, coming up in five clues, though he has been absent from the show since leaving Los Angeles. Interestingly, all three contestants were stumped by one of the clues in the category “Arms and the Man” when the players couldn’t recognize Griffin’s photo accompanied by the following hint:

“All that dunking & dribbling has been good for the muscle tone of this man’s arms”

Chris Paul has also made it on the Jeopardy! board five times, but four clues came after he was traded to the Rockets and the State Farm commercials really took off. It took Paul 10 years into his NBA career to finally debut in the category “NBA All-Stars” in 2015. It was quite a stacked category, also featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Bird, and Julius Erving.

The Clippers as a team have been part of several hints and answers, often as the “other” team in Los Angeles. And then there are a few one-time appearances by individuals associated with the franchise, including Steve Ballmer, Donald Sterling, Doc Rivers, and Keyon Dooling. I don’t know about you, but if I had to guess a third player after Paul and Griffin to make it on Jeopardy!, it would have taken dozens of names to get to Dooling.

Ballmer has been part of several clues and answers dating back to 2005, but only one relating to his stewardship of the Clippers. Rivers has made the board twice as well, and both clues took advantage of the fact that his name is composed of two common words; he was featured in the categories “Lakes and Rivers” and “Hickory, Dickory or Doc”.

Part of the joy watching Jeopardy! is whenever you stumble on a category or a clue that seems to have been written just for you. Thankfully, Clippers fans got to experience some of those moments narrated by Trebek over the years. There will never be another host quite like him.

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