It was roughly 12 and a half years ago that Sports Illustrated put three Clippers fans on the cover of their April 17th magazine… but with bags on their heads and the words “THE WORST FRANCHISE IN SPORTS HISTORY” underlined in bold upper-case type layed over them.
Much to the chagrin of Clippers fans, that title was hard to dispute.
In their 16 seasons following their move to Los Angeles, the Clippers had only posted one season with a winning record.
The Clippers had truly never been anything special.
But as the old saying goes, “every dog has its day.”
In sports, this saying could not be any more true.
Parity is what makes sports so constantly intriguing and every sport has had its rags-to-riches story.
Take a look at the New Orleans Saints. Dating back to the franchise’s inception in 1967 through the 2008 season, the Saints did not have a record above .500 in 34 of those 42 seasons. But in 2009, the dog had its day. Riding the suddenly bionic arm of quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. From 1993 through the 2008 season, the Saints only had two seasons with 10 or more wins. In the four seasons that followed, the Saints have posted double-digit win seasons three times.
In Major League Baseball, check out the artist formerly known as the Anaheim Angels. Prior to the 2002 season, the Angels had only made the postseason three times in the franchise’s 41-year history. Fans didn’t have too much to root for. But in 2002, the dog had its day. Backed behind a slew of unforgettable postseason performances, the stars aligned as the Angels won their first World Series title in franchise history. Following the 2002 season, the Angels turned into a perennial year-in, year-out World Series contender, including four division crowns in a span of five years from 2004-2009.
And if we go across the pond to English Premier League Football (or as we know it on the mainland: soccer)… look no further than the much-maligned Manchester City Football Club. MCFC had developed a reputation over the years as being a pushover team that was frequently too easy to defeat. Fortunes began to change for City supporters in September of 2008, after a takeover in ownership by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates was completed. City had been given new life by having seemingly unlimited transfer funds to help bring in some of the world’s top footballers, and in 2012, the dog had its day. In arguably the most incredible championship finish in the history of sport (check this video if you don’t believe me), Manchester City finished atop the Premier League for the first time in forty four years.
If you are a fan of the Clippers, you can relate to what the aforementioned franchises and fan bases had gone through. So please take a minute and drink in this incredible run that they are on. I don’t care who you root for… 17-game winning streaks in the NBA don’t come around too often.
For just the third time (yes, only the third time) in the history of the NBA, a franchise has gone the course of an entire calendar month without dropping a single one of their contests.
Shoot, even the Mayans couldn’t stop the Clippers and the roll they’ve been on.
After taking care of the Utah Jazz for the second time in three nights, the Clippers extended their improbable winning streak to 17 consecutive games.
Keep this in mind: since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1984-85 season, the Clippers had six seasons where they won 17 or fewer games over the course of an entire season.
With good reason, the Clippers had always been associated with futility. But that former title couldn’t apply less to this current bunch of Clippers.
Ever since Chris Paul came to town, futility has become the last word you’d associate the Clippers with.
In terms of when the Clippers’ dog had its proverbial “day”, you can actually make the case that their winning streak “began” more than seven years ago. Here are eight of the most important days in recent memory that helped shape the Clippers to get to where they are today:
- Day 1 - August 12, 2005 – The Clippers acquire Sam Cassell and a future first round pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves. You could make the argument that this ended up being the most important day on this entire list.
- Day 2 – June 26, 2008 – The Clippers select Indiana Hoosiers guard Eric Gordon with the No. 7 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft and take Texas A&M center DeAndre Jordan with the fifth pick in the second round. Given their recent draft history, the 2008 draft would be the start of an NBA Draft hot streak.
- Day 3 – May 19, 2009 – The Clippers win the NBA Draft Lottery and win the rights to the first overall pick. Hmm. I wonder what they were going to do.
- Day 4 – June 25, 2009 – The Clippers use the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft on Oklahoma Sooners power forward Blake Griffin. Shocker.
- Day 5 - June 24, 2010 – The Clippers select Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu with the No. 8 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, but the savvy move of the day would be a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder that would land Kentucky Wildcats guard Eric Bledsoe in a Clippers uniform. Each would have vital importance in their own ways.
- Day 6 – December 8, 2011 – The day the Los Angeles Lakers landed Chris Paul. And then didn’t.
- Day 7 - December 12, 2011 – The Clippers pull out of a potential Chris Paul trade in the morning, win the amnesty claim on Chauncey Billups and match Golden State’s offer sheet on DeAndre Jordan in the afternoon. Wow. Big day.
- Day 8 - December 14, 2011 – The Clippers and Hornets agree to a trade that would get Chris Paul in a Clippers uniform, with the Clippers trading away Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and Minnesota’s unprotected first round pick dating back to the Sam Cassell trade. Hello, beautiful.
Eight days that re-shaped the history of one of the most maligned franchises in the history of professional sports worldwide.
As much as luck played a part in the Clippers’ current fortunes (the nixing of the Paul-to-the-Lakers trade), if it weren’t for the decision-making of the front office to trade for Sam Cassell and Eric Bledsoe, as well as draft Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Al-Farouq Aminu… the Clippers never would have been in a position to make a play for Chris Paul. Not a chance.
The Clippers have been shattering what were once unshakeable stigmas since the start of last season and are continuing to do so with each successive victory.
For Clippers fans, this is a feeling none of them will soon forget. Here are the Clippers with a league-best 25-6 record, sitting at the top looking down on the NBA’s 29 other teams. For once, Clippers fans can debate with Lakers fans and say their team is better the other’s… and do so with an honest, straight face.
To those who have made the investment of being a Clippers fan, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Your investment in that high-risk penny stock with the continual promise of boundless potential is still in the infant stages of paying off bigger than any analyst could have ever predicted. And how sweet it must feel.
As the old saying goes, every dog has its day.
And Clippers fans, this day belongs to no one but you.
Tags: 17 Game Winning Streak Al-Farouq Aminu Blake Griffin Chris Paul Clipper Fans Clippers 17 Clippers Fans Clippers Front Office DeAndre Jordan Eric Bledsoe Eric Gordon Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Clippers Sam Cassell Sam Cassell Trade