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Monday, May 21, 2018

The Time Donald Sterling Walked out on the Anaheim Pond Mid-Meeting

Before the LA Clippers became one of the few NBA teams that appears to be doing well financially, there were times when they hardly drew fans to the outdated LA Sports Arena. It was then — 15 years ago — that they were considering playing their games at the Pond in Anaheim (currently named the Honda Center) full-time. They began playing games in Anaheim in 1994 after the Sports Arena was damaged in the Northridge earthquake, continued playing select games there the next few years, and always drew well attendance-wise.

It got to the point where in 1996 they were in negotiations to play there full-time. Of course the Clippers never moved to Anaheim, and they opened up Staples Center with the Lakers and Kings in 1999.

So what happened that kept the Clippers from moving to Anaheim if they were that close to making it official? A great story explains it all.

Last week during his Mason & Ireland Show on 710 ESPN in LA, John Ireland related a story about Sterling and his planned move to Anaheim. Apparently there was a meeting at the Pond where the Clippers were all set to sign contracts to play in Anaheim but Sterling rudely backed out.

As Ireland described it, the champagne was on ice and the people at the Pond were all ready to celebrate with Sterling there to sign the papers. Then, Ireland says two people who were in attendance for the meeting told him that Sterling asked to go to the bathroom and never returned. Sterling’s explanation was that there was no way he was going to make all his friends who live in Beverly Hills drive down to Anaheim for games.

I’m not sure what he gained from teasing Anaheim like that. Maybe he really was considering the move but had a change of heart at the last second. Regardless, if the story is true — and it sure seems like it — it seems like a pretty crappy way to handle things. Then again, it is quite consistent with what we’ve learned about Sterling’s character lately, so it shouldn’t be too surprising.

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