LA Clippers – Rocking Los Angeles
While many people only think of the Lakers when they think of Los Angeles basketball teams, there is another world-class team that calls the Staples Center its home, the Clippers. A younger team, founded in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, they then spent 1974-1984 as a San Diego team before making the move to Los Angeles in 1984. It took them several years to really find their footing during their residence at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, with a string of poor scores and a struggle to find a solid fan base. Injuries and lineup changes didn't help matters.
After 13 years without having a single winning season, the Clippers had a breakthrough in 1992 with the start of new coach Larry Brown, who was replacing Mike Schuler. Not only did they win the season, but they managed to end the season with a better record than their local rivals, the LA Lakers. This was monumental, and really improved the morale of the team as a whole, boosting their fan base and filling seats at their games that had previously been empty.
The Staples Center in downtown LA has been a great commodity for a number of local sports teams, the Clippers included. They took up residence at the same space as their rivals in 1999 when it opened, giving them the same level of prestige and access to a state-of-the-art training facility and game home base. Before this they had been playing home games in the Anaheim Arena, along with the Mighty Ducks, sparking rumors that they may become another Anaheim team, ceding their Los Angeles ownership to the Lakers. Their move to the Staples Center proved firmly that they were, and are, a solid Los Angeles team.
The past ten years in their new home has given the Clippers a lot of time to grow and adjust as a team. They have had a high turnaround in players and a mixed bag of results, though none of the dismal failures of their beginnings. This makes them an extremely interesting team to watch, since they seem to only keep growing, along with their fan base. For visitors to Los Angeles who want to see a serious NBA team in action, this may be the team to watch. In 2009 they were awarded the first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, which they used to bring on board Blake Griffin. Only time will tell if this was the best choice, but in the meantime, it makes for an exciting development.
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