The Clippers were founded in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, and were just one of three expansion teams that joined the NBA that year.
The Buffalos would move from city to city, making stops in New York and San Diego before finally finding their home and identity as the Los Angeles Clippers in 1984.
We all know what has happened since then; decades of failure that finally morphed into success with the evolutionary signings of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and head coach Doc Rivers.
While the Clippers (14-3) have had a strong start to the 2016-17 NBA season, many still question whether their core of Griffin, Paul and Jordan has what it takes to get past the second round of a hyper competitive Western Conference.
The Clippers are absolutely tired of hearing the “second round” question, and frankly, so am I.
Doc Rivers has made it clear that the team’s focus is on winning a championship, not breaking the glass ceiling that has hung above the Clipper’s second round matchups, failing to shatter under the dominance of Griffin and CP3.
“You should never run from the truth. That’s true,” Rivers said. “But getting past the second round is such a [expletive] goal. That’s not my goal. My goal is to be the winner. So, to be the winner, part of that is getting past the second round. The second round talk does nothing for me. The endgame is being the winner.”
Regardless of how dominant the Clippers may be this year; the media will question their ability to advance to the Western Conference Finals. It’s a question that everyone around the organization has tired of, and any reporter with a whiff of sense wouldn’t dare ask Paul how his second round failures have shaped his career going forward.
Since joining the NBA in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, the Clippers franchise is one of thirteen teams that have never won an NBA championship.
While they fight to correct that this season, there is another question that pangs even louder, and comes even sooner.
Will this be the season that a Clipper wins the MVP award?
The franchise hasn’t won an MVP award since Bob McAdoo in the 1974-75 season as a member of the Buffalo Clippers.
Though heralded by ESPN as the “point god,” Paul has finished sixth in MVP voting the past two years.
Los Angeles came close to crowning an MVP in 2014 when Griffin finished third behind LeBron James and the award winner himself in Kevin Durant.
As the Clippers lead the league to start the season, there is an increasing chance that Los Angeles will end their season with an MVP on the roster.
Both Paul and Griffin are having MVP-caliber seasons, leading the Clippers to a franchise-best start and a ranking of second overall in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (including a top 5 ranking in both offense and defense).
Paul has averaged 17.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 8.9 assists thus far and leads the league in Real Plus-Minus with a score of 17. Past MVPs Durant and Curry share a score of 16 while James sits at 13.
Griffin has been on a tear himself, leading the Clippers in scoring with 21.4 points per game while grabbing 8.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
The former Rookie of the Year averaged 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 2014 when he placed third in MVP voting, making it less of a stretch that he can be a legitimate contender for the award this year.
The impressive play of Griffin and Paul obviously bodes well for the Clipper’s postseason aspirations, but their relationship is an aspect of strength as both players look to be prized assets in an upcoming free-agency market.
“It’s better now than ever,” said Paul. “Like I’m saying, we both have matured so much, and our communication is amazing right now, so sometimes it takes time. That’s what happened with me and BG, and there’s nothing like it right now. We are having some of the most fun that we’ve had in our time together.”
As the Clippers rank second in margin of victory this season (+12.3 points), it’s entirely possible that both Paul and Griffin receive several first place votes at the end of the season.
Only time will tell if the Clippers will find the postseason success they so desperately desire, but as they continue to dominate the regular season, they may find themselves with an MVP instead of a championship ring.