Career Timeline of Controversial Decisions by LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2012

Former center for the Los Angeles Clippers Chris Kaman came out in the past day, claiming that owner Donald Sterling was a tight-pocketed dude for the early part of Kaman's career, at least until he decided to ship him away for Chris Paul.

In other words, he's saying what we all already knew, now it's just coming from a slightly more reputable source than your average NBA fan.

That being said, a few years of mediocre handling of a franchise sure as heck can't make up for 30 years of running it into the ground, building it back up to just above ground level and then proceeding to run it into the ground again. Lather, rinse and repeat.

So, instead of digging too much into what Kaman has said, that Sterling may have changed his ways (I can't believe that until he proves it with more than a trade for a superstar), let's instead look back at what got his team and his reputation to the point it's at today. How did he become such a maligned personality in the NBA?


1981: The Beginning

Donald Sterling's first mistake was actually purchasing the Clippers in the first place, something he did in 1981 when the team was in San Diego. If he never would have made that first step he could have ended up spending his years as a super-rich, creepy old man.

My thoughts here are that he saw Ted Stepien running the Cleveland Cavaliers into the ground after buying them in 1980 and thinking, "I could do worse." And do worse he did.

Actually, the smartest thing Sterling ever did happened just a few years after he bought the team, as he lobbied the NBA to move the team to Los Angeles, something that would happen in 1984.

1983: No Need for Chambers

Sterling and the Clippers drafted Tom Chambers in 1981, right around the time he purchased the team. Even though he was a moderately high pick (eighth overall), Chambers wasn't a disaster, and averaged more than 17 points per game over the first two years of his career.

Naturally the Clippers traded him.

For Chambers, Al Wood and a mew meager draft picks, Sterling brought back James Donaldson (a decent 7'2" guy), Greg Kelser (a year away from being out of the league) and Mark Radford (who never played for the Clippers).


1987-1989: Drafting Troubles

The first indication of Sterling as a terrible drafter happened in 1987 when the Clippers had three first-round picks.

The guys they got? Reggie Williams, Joe Wolf and Ken Norman.

The guys the didn't get? Kenny Smith, Kevin Johnson, Reggie Miller, Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen, Mark Jackson and Reggie Lewis.

Of course, the next season he went on to draft Danny Manning, who tore his ACL after just 26 games.

In 1989 they ended up drafting Danny Ferry, and in the ultimate show of accidentally crawling out of something terrible, they traded him to the equally (at that point) woebegone Cavaliers. Even crazier, they shipped Reggie Williams, their pick from the 1987 draft, to Cleveland with him.

At this point they're using the opposite of the Oklahoma City Thunder model to build their team.


1995-1998: More Drafting Troubles

Okay, so the Clippers made the playoffs in the early '90s and fell apart. That's at least progress. All they need is to not screw up three out of the next four drafts and they're good.

Well this is awkward.

Cue 1995 and the Clippers pick Antonio McDyess. Not terrible, but in comparison to Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett, the next three picks, it's not great. They can live with it at the very least.

Forget about that one, let's go to 1996 when they landed at No. 7 in a draft that was six players deep. Instead of Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Shareef Abudr-Rahim, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen or Antoine Walker, they ended up with Lorenzen Wright.

Oh, and after Lorenzen went players guys gambled on. You know, guys like Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, Jermaine O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

Then we get to the coup de gråce in 1998. Michael Olowokandi.

Twenty-four people in the 1998 draft played in more games than Olowokandi, and that includes guys like Raef LaFrentz, Tyronn Lue and Pat Garrity.


The Booming 2000s

In a way, Sterling was relatively quite for the duration of the early 2000s. Sure he may have come out and made some stupid comments here and there, but the moves he made actually led to a playoff team.

The Clippers would make the playoffs in 2006, thanks in part to the Tyson Chandler-Elton Brand swap they made after drafting Chandler in 2001.

Of course, the fact that he allowed Elgin Baylor to continue as the team's vice president of basketball operations through everything for 22 years is a bit unnerving. And then there was the fact that he allowed Mike Dunleavy Sr. to be the team's head coach and general manager from 2003 until 2010.


The Late 2000s: Slip-Ups and Faux Pas

Only Donald Sterling could be accused of being a racist, womanizing and curmudgeon in the course of just two years, but he pulled it off.

A Jemele Hill piece from 2009 depicts Sterling as a man a step above Rush Limbaugh in terms of incredulous statements.

Kelly Dwyer writes about how the Clippers denied medical coverage to former assistant coach Kim Hughes, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Finally, possibly the least publicly damning but most cringe-inducing of all, is his involvement with an Alexandra Castro. Castro, testified Sterling, was his mistress he paid for and even consulted with at times about Clippers-related matters.

That's gotta take the cake in an otherwise, baked-goods saturated world of Sterling's past 30 years.


    D'Antoni Says Warriors 'Has All the Pressure'

    NBA logo

    D'Antoni Says Warriors 'Has All the Pressure'

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Mavs Expected to Pursue Trio of Big Men

    NBA logo

    Report: Mavs Expected to Pursue Trio of Big Men

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Clippers Interested in Moving Up in Draft

    Los Angeles Clippers logo
    Los Angeles Clippers

    Report: Clippers Interested in Moving Up in Draft

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Free Agents Who Need a Change of Scenery

    NBA logo

    Free Agents Who Need a Change of Scenery

    Zach Buckley
    via Bleacher Report