Monday, February 14, 2011


On June 29, 2009, Blake Griffin traded in the wind-swept plains after being drafted to a team that plays in one of the best stadiums in the NBA when he was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Now, imagine playing at home in an arena where there are 16 NBA titles and many retired jerseys and numbers, but none of those artifacts are of your team.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the Los Angeles Clippers and this is Griffin's team.

Sure, sharing the Staples Center with the Lakers might be cool (I guess), but it also means that no matter what you do, you will be like a red-headed stepchild.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 1984, the Clippers have never won the Pacific Division title, made it to the playoffs only four times, and only won 35 percent of their games.

By comparison, in the same timespan, the Lakers are their on way to their 13th Pacific Division title, have only missed the playoffs twice, and won the Finals eight times.

As always though, the Clippers fielded young, talented teams with potential but never could keep those players on their team.

There were the 2001-02 Clippers, who made a serious run for the playoffs before going 3-10 to close the season. After the season, they traded an underperforming Darius Miles to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andre Miller, who led the NBA in assists. The starting line-up of Miller, Elton Brand, Quentin Richardson, Lamar Odom, and Michael Olowokandi was expected to lead the Clippers to the 2003 NBA Playoffs. However, they went 27-55 due to injuries and missed the playoffs.

The 2005-06 squad did something that the franchise had not done since moving to the Pacific coast--win a playoff series, when it beat Denver, 4-1, narrowly setting up an all-Staples Center 2nd round. However, the Lakers lost to the Suns in seven games in the first round and the Clippers fell to the same fate.

Problem is, the Clippers would be good, but either something bad would happen (SEE: Shaun Livingston), plans fail to pan out (SEE: the 2002-03 Clippers), or owner Donald Sterling would be shewd and not spend his money to retain players.

This year, the Clippers are quite the draw thanks to Griffin. The Clippers are currently sixth in attendance and draw above 17,000 every home game. While they are a long shot to contend for the playoffs this year, the future looks bright with Griffin, Eric Gordon, and DeAndre Jordan at the helm, and with Baron Davis as the experienced veteran.

As a result, Griffin will not only compete in the Rookie/Sophomore game and the Slam-Dunk contest, but he was selected as a reserve for the All-Star Game, giving the each the Lakers and Clippers representation for their home All-Star game.

Griffin is averaging 22.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, so one can see why the Clippers actually want to keep possibly the best player in the history of Los Angeles' "second" franchise and are willing to pull out all the stops to do so.

General manager Neil Olshey recently compared the relationship between Griffin and the Clippers much like to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder and said, "I can guarantee you he will only ever be a Clipper."

There is a long way to go before thinking about tying down a possible franchise changer, but with the team showing potential, it cannot be ignored.

As for now, the Clippers will be the team to lose a game by a last-second flagrant foul (thanks to Griffin) or to lose to a team with a historic losing streak until the team matures.

Ever since moving the Clippers to L.A. in 1984, Donald Sterling has seen his team attend the lottery

more than the playoffs.

Blake Griffin became the Clippers' third No. 1 draft pick in team history in 2009.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

After missing all of the 2009-10 NBA season, Griffin has shown that he was well

worth the wait this season with his play and nightly poster dunks.

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