4 NBA Teams Who Have Replaced L.A. Clippers as Most Embarrassing Franchise
For a team with perhaps the stingiest owner in the history of sports, the Clippers have had a disproportionate share of disappointment since Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981.
Steadily, the Clippers have been improving over the last eight seasons.
The team made its first significant turnaround when it acquired Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley to flank Elton Brand inside in the summer of 2005. That season was one of the best in franchise history, as the Clips rattled off 47 wins and took the Phoenix Suns to Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Two seasons later, Sterling opened his checkbook to sign the then-dominant Baron Davis to a multi-year deal—the first marquee free agent to ever willingly come to the Clips.
Fortune was at its best when the ping pong balls fell the right way in 2009, landing them Blake Griffin with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. A season later, the Clips made headlines with a blockbuster trade to land MVP candidate Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets.
The Clippers have gone from most disappointing franchise in the history of sports to potential championship contender in a rather quick turnaround.
If the Clips are getting better, then some organizations are surely getting worse. Which NBA franchises are embarking on the ignominious path that the Clippers paved?
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The Clippers made infamous headlines in April 2000 when they were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Six simple words summed up the state of the organization: “The Worst Franchise in Sports History.”
In 1987, the Clippers went 12-70, one of the worst winning percentages in NBA history.
From routinely bad draft picks that saw the Clips make selections like Yaroslav Korolev and Melvin Ely, to Benoit Benjamin’s two left shoes, they always appeared to be a step slow personnel-wise.
Injuries decimated careers, as Elton Brand sat out nearly the entire 2007-08 season with an Achilles tear and Shaun Livingston suffered a horrific knee injury in 2007.
Living in the shadows of the Lakers, the Clippers still have zero Pacific Division titles to their name and just two playoff series victories to date.
Luckily for the Clippers, winning has changed everything and the past seems as distant as Brand’s near-MVP season in 2005-06.
In the age of super-teams and position-less basketball, some franchises are quickly becoming embarrassments at a Clipper-esque pace.
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The struggles of the Orlando Magic were most acutely amplified in the context of the Dwightmare over the last couple of seasons.
Howard became so uncertain with his position last season that he unbelievably agreed to sign a contract option that would have kept him in Orlando for the 2012-13 NBA season. Fittingly, Howard began to waffle again last summer and the Magic rightfully shipped him out of the Magic Kingdom as quickly as possible.
Remarkably, Howard was dealt to the Lakers for the league’s second-best center in Andrew Bynum.
Perhaps Hennigan was prescient in his negotiations, as Bynum has still yet to play a game in Philadelphia this season.
D12 was not the only person to blame in the never-ending Dwightmare.
The star player would often butt heads with head coach Stan Van Gundy, dragging fans and the media into the soap opera.
The Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA today, with no franchise cornerstone to their name.
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Just a few years ago, the Washington Wizards were one of the better teams in the NBA.
Things quickly went downhill from there.
This was only the beginning, however.
Commissioner David Stern moved quickly, suspending Arenas and Crittenton for the season, the coup de grace for the ongoing desecration of a Wizards franchise.
Neither player has seen his career recover.
Crittenton bounced around the league, but has failed to find any consistency. Arenas was swiftly dealt from the Wizards in December 2010, on his way to, you guessed it, the Orlando Magic.
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Once the pride of Northern California, the Sacramento Kings played a tough brand of basketball that took the Lakers to seven games in their epic Western Conference final series in 2002.
Since that peak, the Kings have struggled with personnel and franchise leadership, as they have not made the playoffs since Mike Bibby led them there in 2005-06.
The expected savior of the franchise and 2010 Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans, has been largely an enigma and frontcourt running mate DeMarcus Cousins has made some head-scratching and immature decisions.
This franchise has become dysfunctional from the top down, as the Maloof brothers have been desperately trying to sell the team for the last few years.
Sacramento’s fate as a future NBA city is still up in the air, as Chris Hansen’s Seattle-based group intends on purchasing the Kings and relocating them to the Emerald City.
Just recently, the Kings made another poor personnel move in an effort to save a few million dollars, dealing Thomas Robinson—the No. 5 pick in the 2012 draft—to Houston for a package headlined by Patrick Patterson and Cole Aldrich.
Perhaps most indicative of the changing tide of the franchise is the state of the arena.
The once-raucous Arco Arena, home of some of the most rabid fans in the game, has changed its name to Sleep Train Arena while bringing in the lowest average attendance in the NBA.
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Since their establishment as an expansion team in 2004, the Charlotte Bobcats have been forgettable in the NBA’s landscape.
In their nine NBA seasons, the Bobcats have just one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins to their name.
The team has not even been lucky enough to land a stud in the draft. The best player to be drafted by the Bobcats to date is Emeka Okafor or Kemba Walker, and neither player really jumps off the page too much.
Last season was the lowest point in the history of the franchise, as the team went 7-59, finishing with the worst winning percentage in NBA history at a miserable .106.
Between mid-January and mid-February 2012, the Bobcats lost 16 consecutive games. This was not the trough of the season, however, as the Cats finished the campaign losing their final 23 contests.
The transition from greatest player alive to owner has been especially difficult for Michael Jordan.
At least he still appears to be capable of competing with the Cats’ defunct roster.