Clippers' 30-year climb to relevance
Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981, then decades of punch lines. Not anymore.
Los Angeles Clippers tickets? Clippers tickets??? For a Christmas gift? C'mon. Can't be. Wow, just what I never -- I mean always -- wanted! How did you know? I mean, I never expected Santa to bring me a pair of Clippers tickets. A pair of Lakers tickets, sure. (In the $1,000 to $10,000 range, or Best Available.) A pair of Dodgers tickets, you bet. (For $1,000, a McCourt would personally deliver them to your door.) A pair of Angels tickets, any time, any date. (I'm going to Pujolsland!) But a box of gift-wrapped Clippers tickets, well, what can I say except thanks from the bottom of my seat? Since, as you know, Santa's all-time Top 3 Least Popular Gifts have traditionally been: (1) Lump of coal, (2) Fruitcake, (3) Clippers basketball.
• Networks took the Clippers off their Timberwolves/Wizards/Cavs don't-televise list.
I'm so excited. And I just can't hide it. Because, if not from the beginning, exactly, I have been following this poor little starving creature of a basketball team for a long, long time. I have been with the Clippers through thin and thin. I can name 10 to 20 players who have played for them. I attended a Clippers game on Christmas Day once. As God is my witness, that is the truest sentence in this story so far. I saw them lose to the Spurs on Dec. 25, 1992, on a day when San Antonio's new coach, John Lucas, was giving thanks for his other victory, a personal recovery from substance abuse, by saying: "Miracles happen. I'm living proof of that."As miracles go, a Clippers championship would be a Red Sea parting, Danica Patrick Wins Another Race kind of thing. The unexpected times 10. Because, let's face it, compared with these guys, the Cubs are the kings of the world. Do you know how long the Clippers franchise has been in the NBA? Forty-two years. Do you know how many playoff games it has won? Twenty. How many playoff series it has won? One. How many division championships it has won? None. A sighting of the Clippers in an NBA Finals would be like finding life on Mars, like finding Kim Jong-Il's kid on "Dancing With the Stars." I rate the likelihood of the Clippers landing a championship up there with a pilot landing a jet on the Hudson. I remember so many bad teams, bad games, bad dreams. I remember
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