LA Clippers: Here Goes Year 50

LA Clippers (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LA Clippers (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

As the LA Clippers enter their 50th season we take a look at how far the franchise has come and what has changed in the last 50 years.

This week marks the beginning of the season for the new-look LA Clippers as pre-season begins in Hawaii. More importantly, it marks the 50th year, and maybe the most hopeful, for the franchise. It has been quite a ride for those 50 years.

I’m not going to spend time talking about what seed the Clippers will be this season, or even how many games they should win. Not here to talk about true shooting percentages or PER (although everyone’s PER is about to get a major boost). This isn’t about title hopes or bust, who the team should get fill that 15th spot, or what Ty Lue will add to the coaching staff (yeah, remember that?).

This season represents something so much bigger than all of that. As the Clippers enter year 50, the franchise couldn’t be further from where it started, or even where it was 5 years ago. For anyone masochistic enough to have been a long time fan, you know. Lord, do you know. There were times, a lot of times, that I hated myself for choosing the Clippers. But year 50 vindicates a lot for us that stuck it out during the rough years. Man, there were some rough years.

The biggest shadow was the D***** S******* years. But now Ballmer is here and has become one of the best owners in professional sports. Not only did he save us from he who shall not be mentioned, but he’s helped put a culture behind the name ‘Clippers’. He cares about what he’s doing, and doing it his way; damn anyone who stands in his way (I’m looking at you, Dolan and Buss).

The old regime had one goal; get as much money to the top as possible. But now the team has joined the community in renovating over 300 basketball courts in under-served communities. Not to mention committing $80 million to affordable housing in the neighborhood their new arena is going. Getting involved in the city they play not only shows an investment in the people that live here but also harvests a new generation of Clippers fans- not an easy task in a “Lakers town”.

For anyone that watched last year, you could feel the beginning of something special happening. Something that felt much more deep-rooted than just a one-year success story of an underdog. It was the beginning of identity taking shape. Something that will sustain longer than just one season. It was more than 15 guys that played a certain way, but rather an atmosphere and tone set by the owner, GM, and everyone in the front office. Hell, even Snoop, a very vocal hater of the team had to walk back his comments and give props (he’s actually back to hating, but you get what I’m saying).

This past summer, possibly the single-most-important summer in franchise history, was the real culmination of the changing tide for the Clippers legitimacy. The team landed two superstars while maintaining their depth, identity, and grit from the Cinderella season they had last year.

Landing the two whales marked something so much bigger than title hopes. The team has had stars before. This time the stars chose the team. Talent in the past has been acquired through trade or draft, but have never been the destination. Becoming a choice for such talent is the biggest shift in legitimacy the franchise has ever experienced. I’ll be honest, this team could not win a title, and I would still be happy with what happened in July; it finally marked the Clippers as a place that players want to be.

Year 50 is a mark of hope. Even at the team’s most star-heavy era with Lob City, there was still anxiety and heartbreak. We had to live through moments like game 5 against the Rocket- no, you know what, that never happened. There’s no way that happened, right? NO NO DON’T LOOK IT UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Ok, just breathe. Moving on…

This is the year the team has a group of players that make sense together, that genuinely care about each other, and doesn’t make me feel like that dog enjoying it’s coffee while the house burns around it meme. Title or not in year 50, the Clippers are here. Like, here here. For the first time ever it feels like things are going to be OK in the long term.

I only wish that some of the past Clippers heroes could have experienced something like this with their tenure in LA. They deserved so much more than they got. The Polish Rifle, EB, The Knuckleheads, Hollywood Harper, Loy Vaught, Elgin Baylor, and all the others- this one is for you.

Next. Harkless could have a big role for the LA Clippers. dark

Pour a drink out for Shai. Hope for the best for Blake. Pray for the Ralph comeback tour. Enjoy what we have now because good god do we have some fun basketball to watch. Kick back and enjoy finally having a real-life, grown-ass, legitimate franchise to cheer for. The fun is only beginning in year 50. Here’s to 50 more.