Are the Clippers cursed? 

The Clippers struggle continues as it has for their franchise history


Gracie Rogers

The Curse of the Clippers

ERICK AGUILAR, Evergreen reporter

At the beginning of this NBA season, I felt it would be appropriate to remind everyone of a very dark horse presence in the league, a team that has been knocking at the door of a championship title for a few seasons now.

The Los Angeles Clippers, I don’t know where to start. Well, they are doing better than the Lakers at the moment, so that’s something. 

That reminds me, as a kid from San Diego, I grew up as a Lakers fan, so let’s just say I have a knack for pointing out the Clippers’ shortcomings. 

The Clippers team I was familiar with was completely different, oh yeah baby, Lob City! The 2014-2016 Clippers were something else. 

Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Glen Davis, Jamal Crawford, etc. Oh man! What a team to watch. Dunk after dunk, running the floor and making the hoop look like your little brother’s plastic Fisher Price one.

It might not have been the most tactically sound ball, but it sure was aggressive and flashy and the fans could not get enough.

Unfortunately, the team would never make it past the second round of the playoffs. 

Their best run was in 2016 when the team beat Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, but lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder spearheaded by Russell Westbrook. 

The roster got older and players’ knees were in shambles from seasons of relentless dunking. And others left for other teams that offered more money. 

The current Clippers do not have the same effect as their Lob City counterparts, but are certainly nothing to frown about. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of fans and analysts alike who wouldn’t be surprised to see the Clippers go all the way this year. 

I’d like to remind you of the 2021 Cowboys, a roster absolutely loaded with talent, strong presences in the GM office, and a solid coaching staff. Yet, nothing to show for that season. 

I find the Clips in the same situation. 

The team has one of the best bench rosters in the league, with names like Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum, Terance Mann, Robert Covington, Norman Powell, etc. Not to mention the newest addition of John Wall, the athletic veteran point guard to the top of the bench.  

And then you talk about the starters in Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac locking down the paint, the lights-out shooting from Reggie Jackson beyond the arc, and the scoring duo that is Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

The team has a strong coaching staff under the leadership of Tyronn Lue, Brian Shaw, Daniel Craig, and a few others. 

A seasoned coach and NBA veteran, Lue’s career is most remembered for his time on the 2001 Lakers championship team. Lue was also the head coach of the extremely memorable 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers team, when they defeated the scoring behemoth Golden State Warriors led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

Shaw, a former Laker teammate of Lou, won a ring that 2001 season, and proved extremely clutch in the Lakers 1999 championship run. 

Don’t even get me started talking about Craig, he was on staff for the Miami Heat’s string of three Championships during the 2006, 2012, and 2013 seasons. 

What I’m trying to say here is that the coaching staff knows what locker room champagne tastes like, they know what it takes to win rings. I think this is a critical part of a coaching staff that people might forget. 

Seems like a recipe for rings right? Well, this is the fourth year of the Kawhi-era of the team and the furthest they’ve ever gotten is the Western Conference Finals.

So what seems to be the issue? In my opinion, the Clips leadership is lacking, the dynamic duo of Kawhi and PG-13 is not playing their best basketball, that’s  what it boils down to. 

The Clippers have the right idea, it takes two stars on a team, not one. Look at Luka Dončić on the Mavericks, Trae Young on the Hawks, Charles Barkley on the Suns, Damian Lillard on the Trailblazers, Allen Iverson on the 76ers, I mean I can go on and on. Phenomenal players, but without an equally lethal brother-in-arms, they remain ringless. 

“Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen. When everybody says, well, I won all these championships, but I didn’t win without Scottie Pippen,” said Michael Jordan.

Kawhi is a great player and I have no right to speak on his “in the locker room” leadership, but on the floor, he doesn’t look excited to be there, yes I am aware of his personality, yes his game does the talking. But when your team is down and they look at their best player, only to find an expressionless face, I find it hard to grab the motivation. 

Watch Leonard grab a pass in transition and put down a monster slam on the glass, the fans roar and applaud, the bench jumps to their feet, but the Clippers on the floor head over to their leader for a little celebration, only to be greeted with Kawhi’s blank face. Not super galvanizing if you ask me. 

His counterpart, George, is something different, unlike Kawhi, he is far more animated when it comes to his teammates. But his game is not what it used to be, when the name Paul George is heard amongst NBA fans, everyone will tell you he is a mere fraction of his former self that we all adored on the Pacers. 

A team needs leadership, and that role has to be fulfilled not only in the locker room but on the floor as well. 

In my opinion, the foundations of the Clippers team are sound, great even, but there needs to be two different players at the helm if they want the postseason success they hunt for. 

Despite the sentiments voiced in this column, The Clippers are fun to watch and team chemistry on the floor has its amazing moments. Not only that, you will always find me rooting for the underdog, a position that the Clippers sometimes find themselves in. 

And dammit, those blue home jerseys are clean. 

I find myself perplexed, on one hand I would love to see the Clippers do well and make a deep playoff run, something to really change the narrative about them. Another part of me wants their season to end ringless just to further my point. 

Although, now that I say it out loud the latter seems cynically selfish of me. I suppose with an entire season yet to be played we’ll just have to wait and see.