In LA Since the ’80s, the Clippers Are Finally Planting a Flag

The Clippers made only four playoff appearances between 1984-85, when they moved to Los Angeles from San Diego, and 2010-11, the season before they traded for the All-Star point guard Chris Paul. The Lakers won eight championships during that period.

“The Clippers always been looked at as the other team,” said Paul Pierce, the Hall of Fame player who grew up in Inglewood and spent the final two years of his 19-year N.B.A. career with the Clippers.

There were moments when the Clippers flashed into the imagination of the basketball world. In the early 2000s, a group of young players — Darius Miles, Lamar Odom and Quentin Richardson among them — earned fans’ adoration with their fun personalities and the playing style of an ultra-talented pickup team. But the Clippers made the playoffs only once in the first decade of the century.

“The Clippers never really had a place, you know what I mean?” said Baron Davis, 43, a retired two-time All-Star guard who grew up in Los Angeles and played for U.C.L.A. “And I knew when I signed with the Clippers, my goals in three years, four years, we wanted to make it another destination in L.A.”

They did not become serious contenders until they traded with New Orleans for Paul in December 2011 and ushered in the so-called Lob City era, named for the way Paul would connect with the high-flying forward Blake Griffin for thrilling dunks to punctuate fast breaks.

That period coincided with a downturn for the Lakers, opening the door for some fans, particularly younger ones, to choose the Clippers.

“The Lakers sucked when I first started watching basketball,” Charlie Muir, a high school senior, said at a recent Clippers game. He added: “I saw the Clippers. They had, like, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin. It was Lob City era so it was really exciting to watch.”


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