The LA Clippers have always had their myths and legends to cover up the reason they haven’t snagged an NBA title yet.
As I’m sure most people know–It’s been 47 years, and the team has yet to surpass the Western Conference semifinals. At least for now, the LA Clippers are making consistent playoff appearances. However, from 1967-2010 Los Angeles clinched only four playoff berths.
It’s getting old. The constant thought of wishing the Clippers would some how pull through and at least make a finals appearance is on every fans mind as the regular season’s end nears. Yet, the “Clippers Curse” somehow screws all that up. Every. Single. Year.
This could turn into a 47-year history on every single time the Clippers have been plagued with injury and bad timing, ultimately trashing their chance at a title run, but we’ll just go over the last six years.
In 2012, when Chris Paul was traded to the Clippers the entire franchise started to look a lot more promising. Paul alongside a young Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups and an up and coming DeAndre Jordan made everything seem like playoffs were going to be exciting. They were. However, after the Clippers routed out the Grizzlies in seven games, being swept by the Spurs in the semis wasn’t too exciting. Although there were no major signs of the curse here, this postseason definitely gave false hope to the franchise and fans.
After another season of the Clippers very own big-3, (Paul, Jordan and Griffin), gaining some chemistry together, playoffs seemed promising once again. LA was up against the Grizzlies once again in the first round, snagging an early 2-0 lead in the series. That lead diminished, and as it did, so did the Clippers chances at advancing. Griffin sprained his ankle in Game 5, making it impossible for him to make any damage in Game 6. The 2013 playoffs came to a halt for LA after Paul was ejected in the final game of the series, sending them home with no advancements.
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Each season started to bring new hope and promise to Clippers fans. LA acquired Doc Rivers as head coach and also had a new shooter, J.J. Redick, who was already playing well with the starters in the 2013-14 regular season. For their first year under Rivers, the Clippers won the Pacific Division with a historic 57-25 record. Everything was going well until then owner of the Clippers, Donald Sterling, revealed his true colors. Leaked audio of Sterling having a racist phone conversation was the talk of the league. It emotionally affected the Clippers, fans, and even the entire league, during their playoff run. LA got past the Warriors but fell to the Thunder in the second round in a six game series. Thankfully, Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers in the fall of 2014, putting the tyranny of Sterling to an end. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Donald Sterling is banned for life from the NBA, per Adam Silver.
After the whole debacle of Sterling subsided and the LA Clippers had an awesome, genuine Ballmer as the owner, things once again were looking up for the 2015 postseason. LA faced the Spurs in their first round, using all seven games. In Game 7, Paul made it known within the first five minutes of the game that this was going to end in the Clippers’ favor. Paul hit a shot over Tim Duncan with one second left on the clock, beating the Spurs by two points and advancing the Clippers onto the second round. Paul was hungry for a title, and the rest of the team was following.
It was looking like LA was heading towards a finals appearance for the first time ever. However, of course that didn’t happen. Paul was playing the first round on an injured hamstring, not severe enough to be sidelined at the time. At the start of the second round against the Rockets, Paul was out. He returned in Game 3 and helped the Clippers win for a 3-1 lead against Houston. Once the series boiled down to seven games, the Clippers just couldn’t hold on. Game 7 was full of simple mistakes and the Rockets were taking advantage of every turn over they could. The Clippers went home empty handed once again, per usual.
Last postseason, in 2016, it was LA’s moment to shine yet again. They finished the regular season at No. 4 in the West, one spot above their first round opponents–the Portland Trail Blazers. With no problems, the Clippers could have taken the Trail Blazers down easily, however the LA Clippers Curse made that impossible. The first two games of the series were hefty wins for Los Angeles. Game 4 was where it all went wrong. Griffin and Paul both suffered serious injuries, giving the Blazers a chance to set the series at 2-2. The Clippers weren’t able to hold on without Griffin and Paul and let the series go. If the Clippers Curse wouldn’t have shown up, they could’ve advanced to the second round to face a Curry-less Warriors team. Imagine the possibilities.
As you can see, the Clippers Curse is either alive and well, or the franchise is just constantly struck with bad luck. This last postseason wasn’t any different. LA faced the Jazz in a seven game series, a team they could’ve easily overcome. The series was set at 2-1 after losing Griffin to a toe injury. The LA Clippers fell in games 4 and 5, and then resurrected in Game 6 with a 98-93 win in Utah. Game 7 was in Los Angeles, and sadly the Clippers couldn’t hold on and let the Jazz advance by taking a 104-91 win at Staples.
So how can this curse be conquered? Who knows. Other than extenuating strength training to prevent injury, which all NBA players already do, there is nothing that can be done about the terrible timing of the Clippers’ downfalls. Maybe keeping starters on the bench closer to playoffs, or maybe building a better bench that can actually take on top-seeded teams when their starters are out could fix the problem. We’ll have to wait and see.