Donald Sterling’s forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer is finally complete, the NBA announced on Tuesday. Before being forced to sell the franchise because of his racist comments, Sterling reigned over the Clippers for 33 largely fruitless seasons.
The Clippers won just 37% of their games during Sterling’s tenure, the lowest winning percentage of any current NBA owner with at least five seasons in charge. (Charlotte’s 38% during Michael Jordan’s time as owner is second-worst.) The Clippers weren’t just the worst team in the NBA, they had the worst winning percentage of any team in any of the four major American sports — the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL — since Sterling bought the team in 1981, according to Grantland’s Charles Pierce.
The Clippers made the playoffs just once every 4.7 seasons, on average. No NBA franchise appeared less frequently. (Second worst? The Golden State Warriors, who have made the playoffs eight times in the past 33 seasons.)
Ballmer’s ownership gives the Clippers a fresh start.
Just how bad was Sterling’s reign? This chart shows the relative success of all 20 NBA owners with at least five seasons under their belt:
So good luck, Steve Ballmer. Pretty much anything you do will be better than Sterling.
Note: The raw data for this post can be found here.