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Basketball Clippers eye L.A.

By Ross AtkinSports writer of The Christian Science Monitor / June 17, 1982



Many observers think TV dollars were the chief lure for Al Davis, who has secured court approval for an Oakland-to-L.A. move of his football Raiders. Television revenues plus the possibility of increased attendance may now be attracting pro basketball's San Diego Clippers to Los Angeles, too. Owner Donald Sterling has designs on relocating the Clippers to L.A.'s Sports Arena, and reportedly has signed a contract to move his last-place club into the facility next season.

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First, though, the plan must receive the approval of the National Basketball Association's Board of Governors. When this group meets soon, it will consider the rule that gives each team exclusive territorial rights within a 75-mile radius. The Lakers, of course, are already in Los Angeles, yet Jerry Buss, the team's owner, has said he would welcome head-to-head competition.

At this stage, the champion Lakers have the superior attraction and would win easily. They also could close in on the Clippers' deserted cable market, and really make out.

Over the long haul, though, sharing their turf could backfire. Things can change very quickly in the NBA, where one exceptional player can make a major impact.Being one of league's weakest teams, the Clippers stand a chance of getting just such a player. In fact, Ralph Sampson, the very player Buss covets , could wind up with the Clippers if things break right in next year's college draft.