Danny Manning was sitting out the final weeks of his rookie season after reconstructive knee surgery on the day Blake Griffin was born.
The year was 1989. Manning would go on to be a two-time All-Star in his star-crossed 51/2 seasons with the Clippers, never fulfilling the hopes the team had of making it relevant after it selected him first overall in the draft.
Another Clippers No. 1 pick passed Manning for fifth place on the franchise's all-time scoring list Monday night at Staples Center, Griffin getting there with a three-point basket late in the third quarter of the team's 113-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Griffin scored 18 points and received plenty of assistance as the Clippers ended a losing streak at two games, all five starters scoring in double figures and forward Glen Davis providing an energetic lift with several effort plays off the bench.
The moment when Griffin passed Manning wasn't particularly dramatic. The Clippers didn't even acknowledge it after Griffin took a pass from Jamal Crawford on the wing with 27 seconds left in the third quarter and made the three-pointer that accounted for his final points of the game.
Griffin seemed equally indifferent.
“He was a great player for the Clippers and everything,” Griffin said of Manning, “but I'm not really here to do those kind of things, so I honestly didn't even know. Our whole focus is on these games, to be honest.”
Griffin has 7,122 points in 332 games over five seasons after sitting out what was supposed to be his rookie season because of a broken kneecap. It took Manning 373 games to score 7,120 points with the Clippers, who finally fulfilled his wish to be traded in February 1994 when they sent him to the Atlanta Hawks for an aging Dominique Wilkins.
“It says that Blake is a great player, No. 1,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said of Griffin's feat. “It's amazing he's fifth at 25 and he missed one year. When you think about that, it's remarkable.”
Griffin still has a way to go to pass the four players in front of him on the franchise scoring list: Elton Brand (9,336), Bob McAdoo (9,434) and Randy Smith (12,735).
Rivers conceded “there's a lot of jokes” to moving up the scoring list for a franchise that has never been past the second round of the playoffs. Such as?
“You know what it says?” Rivers said, smiling. “That I played here.”
DeAndre Jordan was the only Clippers starter to play in the fourth quarter Monday, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds. J.J. Redick scored 14 points on seven-for-nine shooting and Jordan Farmar had a season-high 15 points for the Clippers.
“I think he played tonight a lot freer, more aggressive and it was fun to watch,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who had 11 points and eight assists, said of Farmar.
Jodie Meeks had 20 points for Detroit, which couldn't overcome scoring only 17 points in the second quarter or 19 in the third quarter. It also didn't help that the Pistons allowed the Clippers to shoot 53.8%.
Davis was a bouncy presence on the way to eight points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists in only 19 minutes. He roared after forcing a jump ball in the second quarter, received an encouraging nudge in the back from Griffin after making a strong defensive play in the third quarter and had the crowd cheering when he made a spin move for a layup in the fourth quarter.
It was also a good game for Clippers reserve forward Chris Douglas-Roberts, whose nine points exceeded his previous season total of eight.