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Clippings: The best Clipper to wear no. 13

A young Action Jackson

Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images

When Clips Nation had its 64-player Favorite Clipper bracket, one of the complaints with the selection was that Mark Jackson was missing. As a two-year Clipper, he fell short of the legends section of the bracket, but he will not be overlooked again.

The greatest Clipper to wear no. 13 is Mark Jackson. Jackson tops a list of 12 Clippers to wear the unlucky number, and is the only no. 13 to start a playoff game for the franchise.

Jackson came in a trade to the Clippers that sent Doc Rivers and Charles Smith to the Knicks. Interestingly, Rivers said that he was thrilled for the chance to win a title in New York, and years later, he was traded to L.A. as a coach to seek out the same opportunity. Meanwhile, Jackson formed a formidable Clippers trio with Ron Harper and Danny Manning.

Jackson was an incredibly quick decision-maker and had some flair in the open court. Rivers has a saying that when an offense is humming, the ball finds energy — that’s what it looked like when Jackson ran the Clippers offense.

He started off with a bang with 17 points, 11 assists, and 4 steals in his first game, a brutally close opening-night loss to the Lakers at the Sports Arena. Still, the outlines of a great point guard were there.

The New York-bred point guard may be better known for his stints with the Knicks and Pacers, but statistically, Jackson was at his finest in Los Angeles. Over two seasons, he averaged 12.7 points and 8.7 assists in 36.2 minutes per game. The points and minutes were both career-bests, as was his shooting percentage of 47.1% from the field. The Clippers made the playoffs in his first season, marking the first time since 1976 that the team advanced to the postseason in back-to-back years, and the first time in Los Angeles. The Clippers lost in the first round, but pushed Houston to five games, losing by four points the decisive game 5.

The team cratered a bit the next season and traded Manning at the deadline for a post-Achilles tear Dominique Wilkins. That meant Jackson’s time with the Clippers was up as the organization prepared for another rebuild. At least he fetched a promising trade package from Indiana, as the Pacers sent L.A. Pooh Richardson, Malik Sealy, and the draft rights to a sharp-shooting guard named Eric Piatkowski.

Jackson and the Clippers wouldn’t be involved in another big game together until 2014, when the Golden State Warriors faced off against the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. The Warriors were on the precipice of greatness, but the Clippers eked out a seven-game win against the team coached by their former point guard, remaining the most recent Western Conference team to beat Golden State in a playoff series.

In time, Mark Jackson’s tenure as the greatest no. 13 in franchise history may be eclipsed by a certain homegrown talent from Palmdale. But for now, he stands alone.

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