Thursday, January 17, 2008

Clippers, 24 Years Here

The Clippers played their first game as a Los Angeles team, and the first game of the NBA season, on October 27, 1984, against the Utah Jazz, in SLC. Starting lineup: James Donaldson, Bill Walton, Marques Johnson, Norm Nixon, and Derek Smith.

Their first home game (home being the Sports Arena) was against the Knicks—a game they won.

This picture of Bill Walton facing off with Kareem was taken on December 30, 1984, and is part of the LAPL's Herald Examiner photo collection. Don't we all miss short shorts?

Before that, they were the San Diego Clippers, and before that, the Buffalo Braves. (The new team name was bestowed after a contest in San Diego.)

Owner Don Sterling tried to move the Clippers to Los Angeles in 1982, but the NBA had a tizzy and sued the commission managing the Sports Arena for $10 million, claiming that they tried to woo the Clippers there without permission. (David Stern was VP of Legal Affairs in 82.) Then the commission countersued the NBA for $50 million, and for good measure they sued Lakers owner Jerry Buss for objecting to the move.

In 1984 none of that mattered. Forgive and forget.

You can buy this October 15, 1979 cover of Bill Walton of the San Diego Clippers for $19.95 at this SI site.

Here’s another laugh: in 1984, season tickets at the Sports Arena for the Clippers cost $630, or $15 a home game—about half of what Laker tickets cost. I will quote from an LA Times article back then:

“At the Sports Arena [Casa Clipper] there are seats available for $15, $12, $8 and $4 in the upper level and $12 behind the basket.
“At the Forum [Laker Land] there are seats available for $9.50 and $7 in the upper level and $13.50 behind the basket. There are also $5 seats in the upper level for children, students and senior citizens.”

Splurge for a program: $3. Oh, and the Sports Arena sold hot dogs and burritos, while the Forum ticket-holders could munch on pizza, burgers, and ham and cheese sandwiches. Plus, the Forum had Chick Hearn, not to mention Kareem et al.

In 1984, the average salary of an NBA player stood at $240,000. a year. Just a point for reference. Don't suppose any of the athletes on the floor here would consider that a living wage.

This is the tip-off from the January 15, 2008 game against Suns. Another Clipper victory.

No comments: