In the 27 year history of the Los Angeles Clippers, they have posted winning seasons exactly twice.
In 1991, the team was below .500 when Mike Schuler was fired as head coach, and replaced by Larry Brown, who led them to wins in 2/3 of the remaining games, an overall 45-37 record, and the playoffs. The Clippers were in the playoffs again the following season under Brown, with a 41-41 record. Brown left after that season, and 20 years later he is still the only Clippers head coach to record a winning lifetime won lost record while coaching the LA Clippers (or their predecessors, the Buffalo Braves and San Diego Clippers).
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|Despite a .397 lifetime Clippers won-lost record, Mike Dunleavy did lead them to another 45-37 record in the 2005-6 season, but never approached that success again.
In Vinny Del Negro’s second season, they are currently 28-21, in second place behind only the Lakers’, and currently possess the highest winning percentage the team has EVER recorded since landing in LA. They could eclipse the franchise record .598 set in the 1974-5 season played in Buffalo, when the team was lead by the likes of Bob McAdoo, Randy
Smith, Ernie DiGregorio, and Jack Marin.
The optimism heading into this season was as an all-time high for Clippers fans. Blake Griffin was now to be joined on the court by Chris Paul, Caron Butler, and Chauncey Billups. The sky was the limit. Then a measure of reality set in. Despite still playing in the NBA West, inhabited by the likes of the Thunder, the Spurs, and oh, yea, those Lakers, Clippers fans expected to see the team run away with the Conference. As the end of the regular season draws closer, fans and pundits see disappointment all around. Well, they should take a better look.
Despite the devastating loss of Billups, the team has compiled the Western Conference’s fourth best record, trails only the Lakers’ in the Pacific Division, and only by two games, and is in the process of compiling one of the best, if not the best, seasons in Clippers history. Pundits see problems where none exist. The very fact that some have said that Del Negro has “lost” the team is absurd. They criticize his experimental of player combinations and match-ups.
Still relatively new coach + new players + no training camp = Need to experiment and find what works best. Mike Brown gets a pass, but Vinny gets crucified. Brown could take a lesson from Vinny and use some of his benchwarmers and see if they can contribute.
The New York Knicks entered the season with the same kind of anticipation and expectations as did the Clippers. Look at the disaster there. You cannot just buy a championship team in the NBA; look at last year and the magnitude of pundits who had handed the title to Miami. The Clippers and Vinny are progressing. This is no time for a coaching change.