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Los Angeles Clippers
Title track: 72
Fan relations: 37
Stadium experience: 55
Bang for the buck: 65
Change from last year: +17
Five years ago, the Clippers finished last in our rankings: No. 122 of 122. Now the rebirth of the Clippers continues. With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as a foundation, Doc Rivers calling the shots, and Steve Ballmer replacing Donald Sterling as owner, it's a good time to be a Clippers fan, even if the playoffs bring an annual dose of frustration.
On the one hand, Rivers and his roster fare very well in our rankings: 28th for coaching and 38th for players, respectively. On the other hand, our rankings reveal how much fans were bothered by the Clippers' shocking loss in the Western Conference semifinals after leading Houston 3 games to 1. That bitter taste appears to linger longer than the sweetness of upsetting the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in Round 1 -- Clippers fans actually voted Rivers down 13 spots and the players down 10 in the rankings.
What's bad is that the Clippers still haven't reached the Western Conference finals -- ever. Therefore the team's title track ranking, despite the Clippers' success in the standings, is stuck at No. 72, below average across pro sports. The Clippers have the aura -- even in Los Angeles, it appears -- of a team that is more pretender than contender, more Lob City than Clutch City. That might not be entirely fair, but it seems the only way the Clippers can prove they are on a title track is to win a title.
When is a dramatic move of 88 spots in a category in the rankings -- from No. 107 to No. 19 -- not a surprise? When former owner Donald Sterling is replaced by a high-tech mogul with bottomless enthusiasm to match his bottomless pockets. Ballmer's 2014 acquisition of the team has not only given the Clippers' brand a new sparkle but also boosted the team in the Ultimate Standings. With the arrival of Ballmer after the banishment of one of the most despised owners in sports, the Clippers are up to No. 42 in the Ultimate Standings, their highest finish ever.