A Clippers Beginning
The Clippers draft history begins with Bob McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio. McAdoo and DiGregorio won back-to-back Rookie of the Year Awards with the Buffalo Braves in 1972 and 1973. The Braves made the playoffs three consecutive seasons from 1973-1976. McAdoo was named the NBA’s Most Valuable player in the in the 1975 season, in which the Braves finished third in the eastern conference. The Braves, however, were defeated by the Washington Bullets in seven games in the conference semifinals (sound familiar?).
Halfway through the 1975-1976 season, Bob McAdoo was inexplicably traded to the New York Knicks. McAdoo bounced around the NBA from then on, finding his way to Boston and then Detroit. After McAdoo was sidelined in the 1981 season with the Detroit Pistons, General Manager, Jack McCloskey, refused to play McAdoo, despite the All-Stars insistence that he was ready. The Pistons finished the 1981 season with the second worst record in the league. In the 1981 draft, the Pistons selected Isaiah Thomas with the second overall pick.
While the McAdoo-DiGregorio era might have been the proverbial sailor’s “red sky in the morning,” Clipper misfortune was far from over (yeah, I know).
Continuing with the Tony-Gwynn-theme of Clipper draftees who succeeded off the court, the Buffalo Braves selected Tom McMillen with the 9th overall pick in the 1974 NBa draft. While McMillen can boast that he was a first round NBA draftee, McMillen is best known for his role on the 1972 USA Olympic silver medal team (Russia’s been screwing us ever since), and being Maryland’s Fourth District representative from 1987-1993.