Ok so I missed one this weekend. I had the Lakers to win and the Clippers to lose. Didn’t everybody? Picking the Lakers to beat Denver was a no brainer. They were at home, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were due to bounce back from sub par games and they had the World Peace factor working for them.
Plus the Lakers had Kobe Bryant and the Nuggets didn’t. All that and the Laker girls proved to be more than enough.
But picking the Clippers? Well that was not so easy. You don’t pick the Clippers because well…they’re the Clippers. Picking the Clippers to win a game seven on the road is like picking a goat to beat a thoroughbred, a Volkswagen over a Porsche. The Clippers don’t win game sevens at home or on the road.
In fact they don’t win much at all. You have to be in the playoffs to win game sevens and the Clippers don’t appear in the playoffs too often. Before Sunday the Clippers had won only two playoff series in 41 years and had never won a game seven.
The Clippers franchise hasn’t been a basketball team as much as a running joke. The Clips have had so many losing seasons that many considered them cursed. There is the Chicago Cubs in baseball and the LA Clippers in basketball. Win a game seven? That wasn’t going to happen.
This is a franchise that was hapless for the first seven seasons that they they moved to LA including a 12-70 mark in the 1986-’87 season. They traded away Byron Scott to
the Lakers who went on to fame and championships for a broken down Norm Nixon who immediately went down with an injury.
They acquired UCLA star Marques Johnson but he spent most of his time on the injured list and was never the same. They drafted Kansas star Danny Manning, who was the best player in college basketball that year, only to see him go down with a devastating knee injury in his first season.
The high Clipper draft picks over the years never seemed to an out. Big men like Michael Olowkandi and Benoit Benjamin were huge flops. The ones that were on the brink of stardom usually weren’t resigned by owner Donald Sterling.
They drafted Reggie Williams and Danny Ferry but traded them for guard Ron Harper in the 1989-’90 season but Harper was counting his days to get out of a Clipper uniform as soon as he walked in the door. He once referred to his time on the Clippers as a jail sentence.
Anybody remember Darius Miles? Probably not but he was the third overall pick in the 2000 draft.
Sterling changed coaches as frequently as he changed his socks. Larry Brown took the team to the playoffs in 1993 but they were knocked out in the first round. Mike Dunleavy had
some success leading the Clippers to the second round in 2006. But guys like Jim Lynam, Don Chaney, Mike Shuler, Bob Weiss, Alvin Gentry and Bill Fitch were all canned by Sterling.
Even when Blake Griffin was drafted the curse continued when he missed his entire first year with an injury.
In game seven the Clippers had more than just history stacked up against them. Griffin and Chris Paul were both banged up in game six against Memphis. They were cleared to
play but without your two best players at 100 percent the Clippers were at a distinct disadvantage.
So yes I picked against them. But the Clippers won. Yeah, they won! Paul scored 19 to lead the way. Kenyon Martin and Nick Young combined to score 24 off the bench and Griffin
sat out most of the fourth quarter but somehow the Clippers won.
The Clippers won a game seven…on the road…no that’s not a misprint. Is the curse over? I’m not sure but something’s different. These aren’t your same old Clippers.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.