CLBR #267: Mick Minas and the Clipper Curse

Mick Minas and the Clipper Curse (7/26)

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We take a little summer break to talk with the author of the book “The Curse: The Colorful & Chaotic History of the LA Clippers“.  I have actually been a Clipper fan dating back to their Buffalo Braves days due to their drafting local hero Ernie DiGregorio and began following them closely since the 2006 season.  Note: this interview was recorded on June 27th, before the Chris Paul trade.

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From Bill Walton’s feet to DeAndre Jordan’s free throws, something always seems to go wrong for the LA Clippers.  Beginning with the highly unusual birth of the franchise, the Clippers’ legacy has always carried with it the haunting suspicion that the team is cursed. Author Mick Minas goes behind the scenes— interviewing players, coaches, and front office personnel—to create the first in-depth look at the history of the Clippers.

The Curse is filled with drama: the unauthorized relocation of the franchise that led to the NBA filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Clippers, the disruption of the team’s first playoff appearance by the Los Angeles riots, the bold but unsuccessful attempt to sign Kobe Bryant at the peak of his career, and the scandal that ultimately resulted in owner Donald Sterling being banned from the NBA for life.

Featuring some of basketball’s biggest names, including World B. Free, Elgin Baylor, Danny Manning, Doc Rivers, Larry Brown, Dominique Wilkins, Elton Brand, Baron Davis, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul, The Curse delves into the disasters of the past and the complications of the present.  This is the definitive history of the NBA’s most dysfunctional franchise.

The Los Angeles Clippers should get on their knees and thank Mick Minas for taking, what appears to be several years, to chronicle their team history. The passion, the detail, the ironies, the insider information are smartly told in what will, no doubt, be the definitive book on this colorful franchise. An MVP effort from a rookie author.
MARSHALL TERRILL, author of Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete

About the Author – Mick Minas
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Mick Minas has over two decades experience as a basketball coach and his writing has been published by New Matilda and Prime Number. He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1998 and currently lives with his wife and two children in Melbourne, Australia.  The Curse is his first book.

 


CLIPPER HISTORY

Buffalo Era
(259-397 / .395)
Playoff Appearances: 3

Highlights:

  • Expansion franchise with Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trailblazers.  First of the class to reach playoffs.
  • Won three Rookie of the Year awards – Bob McAdoo (1973), Ernie DiGregorio (1974) and Adrian Dantley (1977).  McAdoo was NBA MVP in 1975.
  • John Y. Brown takes over as owner in 1976-77 seasons (paying $6.2M for the franchise) and dismantles team trading away McAdoo and future Hall of Famer Moses Malone.
47 Seasons Table
Season W L W/L% Finish Playoffs
1977-78 27 55 .329 4
1976-77 30 52 .366 4
1975-76 46 36 .561 3 Lost E. Conf. Semis
1974-75 49 33 .598 2 Lost E. Conf. Semis
1973-74 42 40 .512 3 Lost E. Conf. Semis
1972-73 21 61 .256 3
1971-72 22 60 .268 4
1970-71 22 60 .268 4
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2017.

San Diego Era
(186-306 / .378)
Playoff Appearances: 0

Highlights:

  • Led by World B. Free, who finished second in NBA scoring, the Clippers posted a record of 43–39 in their first season in California under new head coach Gene Shue, leaving them two wins shy of the final playoff spot.  It would be the Clippers’ last winning season for 13 years.
  • Acquired Bill Walton for 1979-80 season, he would play only 14 games his first three seasons.
47 Seasons Table
Season W L W/L% Finish Playoffs
1983-84 30 52 .366 6
1982-83 25 57 .305 6
1981-82 17 65 .207 6
1980-81 36 46 .439 5
1979-80 35 47 .427 5
1978-79 43 39 .524 5
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2017.

Sports Arena Era
(395-803 / .330)
Playoff Appearances: 3

Donald Sterling purchased the team in 1981 for $13M  and brought them to Los Angeles.  Their new home was the aging Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, which the Lakers abandoned in 1967.

Highlights:

  • In 1987, the team’s record of 12-70 was the second-worst single-season record in NBA history at that time.
  • In 1992, Larry Brown took over as coach mid-season and the team finished 45-37.  Not only did they finish ahead of their crosstown rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, but they made it to the playoffs for the first time since moving west.
  • In the 1992 playoffs, Game 4 of the first-round playoff against Utah had to be played at the Anaheim Pond because of the Los Angeles riots.  The Clippers led 77-73 after three-quarters in the decisive Game 5, but Utah won 98-89.
  • The Clippers returned to the playoffs in 1993 and pushed the Houston Rockets to a deciding Game 5 before losing 84-80.
47 Seasons Table
Season W L W/L% Finish Playoffs
1998-99 9 41 .180 7
1997-98 17 65 .207 7
1996-97 36 46 .439 5 Lost W. Conf. 1st Rnd.
1995-96 29 53 .354 7
1994-95 17 65 .207 7
1993-94 27 55 .329 7
1992-93 41 41 .500 4 Lost W. Conf. 1st Rnd.
1991-92 45 37 .549 5 Lost W. Conf. 1st Rnd.
1990-91 31 51 .378 6
1989-90 30 52 .366 6
1988-89 21 61 .256 7
1987-88 17 65 .207 6
1986-87 12 70 .146 6
1985-86 32 50 .390 4
1984-85 31 51 .378 5
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2017.

Staples Center Era
(680-780 / .466)
Playoff Appearances: 7

The Clippers joined the Los Angeles Lakers in moving into the new Staple Center for the 1999-2000 season.

Highlights:

  • 2006 team won the franchise’s first playoff series since move to California before losing to the Phoenix Suns 4-3 in the conference semifinals.
  • 2012 team opened the playoffs with a 27-point comeback win in Game 1 at Memphis.  Its the second-biggest playoff comeback of all time.
  • 2013 team won the franchises’ first division title.  See Clippers Win First Division Title.
  • With the acquisition of Chris Paul in the 2011-12 season, the Clippers have had won 60 percent or more 7 seasons in a row and have won 50 or more games 6 seasons in a row.  The team, however, has not advanced past the second round and became the first team to blow a lead in a playoff series five years in a row.  See The Rise and Fall of Lob City.
  • Donald Sterling controversy leads to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer buying the team for $2 billion.
47 Seasons Table
Season W L W/L% Finish Playoffs
2016-17 51 31 .622 2 Lost W. Conf. 1st Rnd.
2015-16 53 29 .646 2 Lost W. Conf. 1st Rnd.
2014-15 56 26 .683 2 Lost W. Conf. Semis
2013-14 57 25 .695 1 Lost W. Conf. Semis
2012-13 56 26 .683 1 Lost W. Conf. 1st Rnd.
2011-12 40 26 .606 2 Lost W. Conf. Semis
2010-11 32 50 .390 4
2009-10 29 53 .354 3
2008-09 19 63 .232 4
2007-08 23 59 .280 5
2006-07 40 42 .488 4
2005-06 47 35 .573 2 Lost W. Conf. Semis
2004-05 37 45 .451 3
2003-04 28 54 .341 7
2002-03 27 55 .329 7
2001-02 39 43 .476 5
2000-01 31 51 .378 6
1999-00 15 67 .183 7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2017.

 

Clipper Leaders

GAMES

  1. Randy Smith 715
  2. DeAndre Jordan 673
  3. Eric Piatkowski 616

POINTS

  1. Randy Smith 12735
  2. Blake Griffin 10117
  3. Bob McAdoo* 943

POINTS PER GAME

  1. World B. Free 29.4

FIELD GOALS

  1. Randy Smith 5214
  2. Blake Griffin 3906
  3. Bob McAdoo* 3697

3-POINT FIELD GOALS

  1. Eric Piatkowski 738
  2. J.J. Redick 674
  3. Jamal Crawford 662

REBOUNDS

  1. DeAndre Jordan 6817
  2. Elton Brand 4710
  3. Loy Vaught 4471

REBOUNDS PER GAME

  1. Elmore Smith 13.8

ASSISTS

  1. Chris Paul 4023
  2. Randy Smith 3498
  3. Gary Grant 2810

ASSISTS PER GAME

  1. Chris Paul 9.8

STEALS

  1. Randy Smith 1072
  2. Chris Paul 902
  3. Gary Grant 747

STEALS PER GAME

  1. Chris Paul 2.2

BLOCKS

  1. DeAndre Jordan 1206
  2. Benoit Benjamin 1117
  3. Elton Brand 1039

BLOCKS PER GAME

  1. Benoit Benjamin 2.8

COACHING WINS

Doc Rivers 217
Mike Dunleavey 215
Jack Ramsay 158

 

 

 

 

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