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No. 55: Los Angeles Clippers

9/23/2013

Last year's rank: 53
Title track: 72
Ownership: 81
Coaching: 104
Players: 45
Fan relations: 54
Affordability: 56
Stadium Experience 47
Bang for the Buck 50

Attending a Clippers game at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles used to feel like a night out in Modesto (or any other town in the middle of nowhere). Some of that can be attributed to famously cheap owner Donald Sterling, and some to the Clippers' play over the past three decades. Since moving to L.A. for the 1984-85 season, the Clippers have made it past the first round of the playoffs just twice, becoming famous along the way as the Lakers' low-rent understudies. But there's been a changing of the guard in SoCal recently, and it shows with the Clippers' soaring up our standings to No. 55 (they were No. 122 in 2010).

Working in their favor right now: They're led by dynamic point guard Chris Paul, the new president of the NBA players' association who made a long-term commitment to the franchise this summer. He's also teamed with Blake Griffin and a slew of talented, freshly inked role players. And coach Doc Rivers, considered by many at the top of the profession, practically ran across the country to coach them. What universe are we living in? Well, it's one in which the Clippers' stadium experience ranks seven slots higher than their arena-mates. A franchise-record 56 wins in 2012-13 didn't hurt. Throw in off-Broadway prices -- the Clips' average ticket is more than $37.00 cheaper than the Lakers' -- and expectations are through the roof. "I want to win a ring," Paul told the L.A. Times this summer. The best sign of all for the Clips? No one laughed.