The Kings' blowout loss to the Celtics earlier tonight was so perplexing that I came home and started going through my old media guides, trying to determine if I had ever witnessed a more one-sided performance. I started at the beginning, with my first year as an NBA beat writer covering the 1981-82 San Diego Clippers, who under first-year owner Donald Sterling won a grand total of 17 games. Interestingly, when I went through the roster, I was struck by the fact that the league's second-worst team featured eight scorers in double figures, led by rookie forward Tom Chambers. The roster also featured Michael Brooks, Brian Taylor, Swen Nater, Jerome Whitehead, Freeman Williams, Joe (Jellybean) Bryant, Armond Hill, and the late Phil Smith, one of the most gracious athletes I have ever known.
The 1982-83 Clips won a whopping 25 games, yet when you consider the talent, it bolsters the argument that a 23-team NBA - which at the time only allowed an occasional underclassman to enter under hardship terms - provided a better product because the players went to college and were more polished when they entered the league. Additionally, with seven fewer franchises, the talent level wasn't so diluted. Consider that the '82-83 Clips, who again finished 22nd of the 23 teams, included Chambers, Brooks, Terry Cummings, Lionel Hollins, Craig Hodges, Randy Smith, Bobby Gross, Whitehead and Bill Walton, who attended law school at Stanford during the week and played basketball on the weekends.
As for figuring out whether I have seen a worse thumping than Sunday? I'm not sure. I still have some research to do. I've seen a lot of really bad basketball. Still. This one was a beauty. When an opponent is blocking your jump shots, as did the Celtics a number of times Sunday, you know you're in deep, deep trouble.
The Carril Connection
Though I didn't make the connection at the time, two of Pete Carril's former Princeton stars were on that woeful 1981-82 Clippers team - guards Armond Hill and Brian Taylor. Hill is currently an assistant on Doc Rivers' staff. Geoff Petrie, as we know, spends most of his time at the practice facility across the way from Arco Arena.
Right now, I'd say Armond has the sweeter gig.
Can't get enough of this
Practice should be interesting on Monday. I am curious to hear what interim coach Kenny Natt emphasizes. His team can't shoot, won't pass, doesn't rebound, doesn't defend. I think I'd start with the defense, though.