The Clippers have a lot to look forward to next season, they deserve more attention than the other L.A. basketball team. Photo by Marius Christensen from Unsplash.com.
By Nisvan Guzman. Staff Reporter.
Last month, the LA Clippers wrapped up their 11th consecutive winning season and they recently broke ground on a new $2 billion stadium, Crypto.com Arena in Inglewood, Calif. Out of the two LA teams, they have the best chance to compete for the NBA championship next season, yet are overshadowed by the Lakers’ disappointing season.
Despite a losing record, the Lakers still managed to sell out nearly every game at the Crypto.com Arena last season, according to data from ESPN. The more successful Clippers missed that mark by an average of 1,700.
The Clippers endured most of the season without their two superstar players, Kawhi Leonard (knee) and Paul George (elbow), who appeared in only 31 of 82 games but they finished with a record of 42 – 40. A result of the combination of veteran role players and mastermind head coach Tyronn Lue.
CSUDH student, Christian Martinez, attended eight Clippers games this past season.
“[I’ve] been a Clippers fan since birth. [My] family are Clippers fans”, Martinez said.
Traditionally, the Clippers have taken the backseat in a city filled with a majority of Lakers fans. It’s no surprise since the Lakers hold 18 World Championships and are represented by 20 players in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Clippers have never won a championship and have only eight former players in the Hall of Fame, only one of which had a tenure longer than four years with the team.
The team was also plagued with 33 years of bad ownership under Donald Sterling, who was forced to sell the team in 2014 after racist remarks were leaked by the owner’s girlfriend. Sterling was infamous for not investing enough money in the team and creating a toxic culture.
The team was later sold to billionaire Microsoft co-founder, Steve Ballmer, in 2014 for $2 billion in cash. There was a change in perception around the organization almost immediately. It became a destination that attracts elite players from around the league. Ballmer can also be seen cheering and clapping from his regular courtside seat at every Clippers home game and even some road games.
In 2021, the Clippers had their most successful season by reaching the Western Conference Finals. They were defeated by the Phoenix Suns after losing five-time All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard to a knee injury.
“Kawhi would have killed it against the Suns,” Martinez said. Leonard has the most playoff experience of any Clipper and has earned two Finals MVP awards with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors.
The future looks bright for this Clippers team which has a balanced mix of veteran players and young players. One of those young players is 20-year-old guard Brandon Boston Jr.
“The player I was excited to see was Brandon Boston Jr. He has a lot of potential and pairing him with the knowledge of Paul George and Kawhi is deadly”, Martinez said.
The new home of the Clippers, the Intuit Dome, is scheduled to open in 2024. Highlights of the new stadium are a “steel frame with diagrid geometry” and an 18,000 seat capacity. Fans can sign up for exclusive early access to season tickets in the new stadium here.