The Clippers vs. 'Showtime'

Breaking down the top teams in Los Angeles history

Originally Published: January 22, 2013
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus
Los Angeles ClippersJayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsThe Los Angeles Clippers, at 32-10, are on pace for the first 50-win season in franchise history.

We love to compare things in sports. Players. Teams. Coaches. Uniforms. Beer selection at the arena. It's the nature of sports fandom, and it's part of the experience to try to fit what we see in the present with what we remember from the past. Of course, sometimes these comparisons are simply navel-gazing exercises that really don't add up to much. In this case, you can blame Magic Johnson.

"I thought I would never, ever see Showtime again, and I was the architect of Showtime," Johnson said on ESPN last month. "The Clippers? That's Showtime."

Some of the most memorable teams in NBA history have plied their trade in Los Angeles, and until this season every single one of them wore the purple and gold. While the Lakers' super-team experiment continues to flop like a Lindsay Lohan movie, the Clippers are well on their way to not just the best season in franchise history, but really the only truly great regular season the Buffalo Braves-San Diego Clippers-Los Angeles Clippers have ever had. As long as the Clips manage to go at least 18-22 the rest of the way, they will win 50 games for the first time in franchise history. Their first 50-win season may also turn out to be their first 60-win season.

Magic's Showtime comparison was more a stylistic one than an evaluative one. Or at least I assume that's the case, because there simply is no case to make that the Clippers are as good as the 1980s Lakers. This is the Clips' first season as an elite team; Magic's teams were one of two franchises, along with the Celtics, to define what many consider to be the Golden Era of NBA basketball. That said, on a one-season basis, it might be fun to see how these Clippers stack up with the best of those Showtime editions.


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