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When the Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1984, they kept their nickname.
The 1981–82 season brought changes to the franchise as Irv Levin sold the team to Los Angeles-area real estate developer and attorney Donald Sterling for $12.5 million.Despite fielding a squad of talented veterans, the organization suffered systematic injuries to many of its star players.The phenomenon was dubbed the "Clipper Triangle" by some sports writers.The team's 12–70 finish in the 1987 season was the second-worst single-season record in NBA history at that time (and is now the third-worst winning percentage in NBA history behind the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers and the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats).That same season also saw Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor join the team as the general manager and vice president of basketball operations.As a result, after a failed attempt to sell the team to an owner who intended to move it to South Florida, Snyder sold the team to Kentucky Colonels owner John Y.
Brown, Jr., who decimated the team's roster, traded away all of its stars, and drove attendance down to the point where they could break their own lease on the arena.
The Braves moved from Buffalo, New York to San Diego, California in 1978 and became known as the San Diego Clippers. Through much of its history, the franchise failed to see significant regular season or playoff success.
The Clippers were frequently seen as an example of a perennial loser in American professional sports, drawing unfavorable comparisons to the historically successful Lakers, with whom they have shared a market since 1984 and an arena since 1999.
It would be the Clippers' last winning season for 13 years.
It was also in that first season in southern California that long-time announcer Ralph Lawler began his association with the club. Free, who was acquired in the offseason from the Philadelphia 76ers, finished second overall in NBA scoring average, with 28.9 per game, while George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs had a 29.6 average.
They also added to their budding rivalry with the Lakers, as they finished with a better record than the Lakers for the fifth time and won the season series for the second time since moving to Los Angeles in 1984, this time in a sweep. The franchise began in Western New York as the Buffalo Braves, one of three NBA expansion franchises that began play in the 1970–71 season, along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers.