LA Clippers: Which Clippers Are the Greatest of Their Era?

NBA, LA Clippers (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
NBA, LA Clippers (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
1 of 8
LA Clippers, Bob McAdoo
LA Clippers, Bob McAdoo (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

There’s always conversation about who is the Greatest of All Time. We decided to go a little deeper and look at the Greatest LA Clippers of Their Era.

The conversation around greatness in basketball often centers around who is the GOAT – the Greatest of All Time. Whether it’s the GOAT player or GOAT LA Clipper, that’s usually how the discussion is framed.

But that kind of conversation leaves out context and rules specific to an era. That was pointed out by Danny Green to Tomer Azerly on the Battle for LA Podcast, when he mentioned that instead of the GOAT, the conversation should be the GOTE – the Greatest of Their Era.

That sounds like a very reasoned take to me, and it got me thinking: who’s the GCOTE (the Greatest Clipper of Their Era)?

Of course, the definition of eras is pretty fluid, and what one person considers to be one era of LA Clippers basketball, somebody else might consider two separate eras. I decided to do what any great scientist or historian does, and I consulted Wikipedia.

With one small change (which I’ll leave as a bit of a surprise), I used the splits on Wikipedia as different eras. For the most part, they made plenty of sense – Buffalo is its own era. San Diego is its own era, etc.

Without further ado, let’s start early and work our way forwards:

LA Clippers GOTE 1970-78: Bob McAdoo

Not much suspense here. Bob McAdoo is the greatest of the Buffalo era, and one of the greatest in the history of the franchise. He played with the Braves from 72 to 76 and led the league in scoring three times in that span. He’s the only Clipper/Brave to win MVP while with the team, a feat he accomplished in 1975.

Despite the lack of a three point line, McAdoo was comfortable playing on the perimeter, and he was a nearly unstoppable force on the offensive end. His sophomore season in 72-73 would be the last time any player has averaged more than 30 points and more than 15 rebounds in a season.

Although he would never win a championship with Buffalo, he was named an All-Star in three straight years, from 74 to 77. He would later win two championships with the Showtime Lakers.

Honorable mention goes to Randy Smith. The Iron Man was with the Braves/Clippers from 71-72 to 78-79 and played 650 games in that stretch. A consistent swingman, Smith had a four year peak of 22/4.5/5.4 with efficient shooting numbers.