The 1981 – 1982 season brought changes to the franchise as Irv Levin sold the team to Los Angeles-area real estate developer and attorney Donald Sterling for US$12.5 million. The Clippers’ poor play in the final years in San Diego resulted in averaging only 4,500 fans a game. Sterling lobbied the NBA to relocate the team to his native Los Angeles.
In 1984, the Clippers moved north to Los Angeles, playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. However, the move was not approved by the NBA, which fined Sterling $250 million. He sued the league for $100 million, but dropped the suit when the league agreed to decrease the fine to $6 million. The Clippers finished their first season in Los Angeles 31–51 under head coach Jim Lynam.
From 1994 to 1998, the Clippers played several games at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, sharing the venue with the NHL’s Mighty Ducks and the Splash indoor soccer team. In 1999, the Clippers joined the Lakers and Los Angeles Kings in the new Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. In sharing the building with other tenants, such as the highly popular Lakers, the Clippers, with relatively low success, were often overshadowed by the Lakers.
On December 14, 2011, they traded Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Minnesota’s 2012 first-round pick acquired in 2005 for New Orleans Hornets’ four-time all-star Chris Paul. Paul had previously almost been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, but NBA commissioner David Stern had vetoed the trade. Paul and Griffin were selected as starters for the Western Conference team in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, the first time in franchise history the team had two All-Star starters in the same year.
The team gained the nickname “Lob City” due to a comment made by Griffin during the Clippers Media Day when the announcement of Chris Paul’s trade reached the team. Griffin, after being told the news by close friend DeAndre Jordan, declared, “Yeah! It’s going to be lob city!”
On April 29, 2014, the NBA issued Sterling a lifetime ban from the organization after a league investigation into the recording confirmed that he was the one conversing with Stiviano. The league also issued a $2.5 million fine against Sterling, the highest allowable by the NBA and barred him from attending games or practices involving any NBA team; being present in any Clippers office or facility; and from participating in any team business, player personnel decisions or league activity. NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated in a press conference regarding the decision that he will try to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, which would require the consent of three-quarters of the league’s 29 other team owners. Silver later announced that that NBA would appoint a CEO to run the team. Before the ban was handed down, Sterling said in a phone conversation with Fox News contributor Jim Gray that he had no plans to sell the team.
On May 27, 2014, Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, agreed to purchase the team for $2 billion. To buy the team, Ballmer reportedly beat out other candidates including Oprah Winfrey, Floyd Mayweather, Magic Johnson, and a group of crowdfunders. Although Ballmer lives in the Seattle area and had been part of an ownership group that had unsuccessfully attempted to move the Sacramento Kings to that city, he has indicated that he has no intention of moving the Clippers. On August 12, 2014, Ballmer officially took control of the team following an order by a California court that confirmed the sale from Shelly Sterling to Ballmer. As part of the deal Shelly Sterling gets the titles of “Owner Emeritus” and “Clippers’ Number 1 Fan,” as well as 10 tickets in sections 101 or 111 for all Clippers games, 2 courtside tickets for all games in Los Angeles, 6 parking spots in Lot C for each game, 12 VIP passes that include access to the Lexus Club, Arena Club, or Chairman’s Lounge and Media room or equivalent, for each Staples games, 3 championship rings following any Clippers title, and will run a yet to be named charitable foundation.
The Los Angeles Clippers, often abbreviated as the LA Clippers, are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Clippers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league’s Western Conference Pacific Division. The Clippers play their home games at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, an arena shared with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The franchise was founded in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, one of three expansion teams to join the NBA that year. The Braves moved from Buffalo, New York to San Diego in 1978 and became known as the San Diego Clippers. In 1984, the Clippers moved to Los Angeles. Through much of its history, the franchise failed to see significant regular season or playoff success. The Clippers were frequently seen as an example of a perennial loser in American professional sports, drawing unfavorable comparisons to the historically successful Lakers, with whom they have shared a market since 1984 and an arena since 1999.
Buffalo – San Diego – Los Angeles
1970 – Present / National Basketball Association
1984 – Present / Los Angeles Clippers
1978 – 1984 / San Diego Clippers
1970 – 1978 / Buffalo Braves
Clippers – In 1978, San Diego welcomed the relocation of the Buffalo Braves’ franchise because the city had lost their Rockets to Houston seven years earlier. San Diego team officials didn’t think Braves was a representative nickname for the club.
A contest decided on Clippers because the city was known for the great sailing ships that passed through San Diego Bay. When the Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1984, they kept their nickname.
NBA Championships 0
1999 – Present / Staples Center
1984 – 1999 / Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
1978 – 1984 / San Diego Sports Arena
1970 – 1978 / Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
2014 – Present / Steve Balmer
1981 – 2014 / Donald Sterling
1978 – 1981 / Irv Levin
1976 – 1978 / John Y. Brown, Jr.
1970 – 1976 / Paul Snyder
*Blue is this team’s history