Two years later, Buss suggested to Sterling that he could purchase his own NBA franchise, and Sterling bought the struggling San Diego Clippers for $12.5 million.At his introductory news conference in San Diego, Sterling vowed to “spend unlimited sums” to build the Clippers into a contender, and he embarked on a county wide marketing campaign featuring his smiling face on billboards and the backs of buses. The seminal ads read: “My Promise: I will make you proud of the Clippers”. Unlike Buss’ instant success with the Lakers (including winning an NBA championship in his first season as owner, 1979 80), Sterling and his Clippers struggled through many lackluster seasons, and they did not have their first winning season until the 1991 92 season, 11 years into his ownership. In Sterling’s 33 years of owning the Clippers through 2013 14, the Clippers lost 50 or more games 22 times, 60 or more on eight occasions, and 70 games once. Their 9 41 record in the lockout shortened 1998 99 season projected to another 60 loss season.The NBA in 1982 fined Sterling $10,000, the largest sum ever levied against an owner at the time, after he commented that he would accept the Clippers finishing in last place in order to draft an impact player like Ralph Sampson. In June 1982, Sterling attempted to move the team to Los Angeles.
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