5 reasons why the Clippers Curse is real

by
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Another heartbreak is on the way for Los Angeles Clippers fans, who know the feeling all too well.

In a span of three days, the Clippers went from cuddling a cozy 2-0 series lead to losing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin while the Portland Trail Blazers evened the matchup at 2-2.

In the City of Angels, only one thing is forever: the Clippers Curse. Here are five reasons why it's real:

Losing 3-1 lead against the Rockets

Clippers fans need only to return back to last season to remember the bitter sting of disappointment. Having raced out to a 3-1 series lead against the Houston Rockets, the Clippers looked certain to make their first-ever conference finals appearance.

The Rockets rallied to take Game 5 on their home floor, but that was expected. The Clippers happily invited Houston back to Staples Center and promptly jumped out to a 19-point lead in the third quarter.

But that's when it all fell apart. The Rockets outscored the Clippers 40-15 to leave them shell-shocked on their home court. Josh Smith and Corey Brewer drained triple after triple and the Clippers never recovered as they dropped Games 6 and 7 without much resistance.

Drafting Olowokandi first overall

The Kandi Man, they called him. Michael Olowokandi was the mystery man from Nigeria who was to be the savior for the Clippers after they landed the first overall pick in 1998.

Blessed with a hulking 7-foot frame and fresh off a dominant collegiate campaign as a junior, Olowokandi was hailed as a blessing. But he proved to be yet another cruel twist in the Clippers curse.

Olowokandi did carve out a decent career, topping out at 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds at his peak, but he never shot over 46 percent from the field despite playing exclusively in the paint, and he failed to truly make an impact.

More than anything else, it was the opportunity cost. The likes of Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Paul Pierce were taken in the same draft.

Paul and Griffin both go down

Just for a brief moment, it looked as if the Clippers had caught a break.

The diagnosis of Stephen Curry's MCL sprain had come out just hours before Game 4, and it seemed as though a window had popped open for them to sneak past the reigning champions without their MVP.

But then Paul broke his hand on an innocent play, Griffin's torn quad acted up, and, soon enough, the Clippers went from dreaming about the Finals to worrying about surviving the first round.

Kobe nearly joins Clippers

Imagine how the two franchises would be perceived today had Kobe Bryant spent the bulk of his prime years with the crosstown rivals.

Bryant was rumored to be on the move to the Clippers when he was a free agent in 2004 for a monstrous deal. Fortunately, the Lakers wised up and trumped the offer by $30 million to get Bryant to remain a Lakers lifer.

Instead, the Clippers spent that money locking up Corey Maggette and Elton Brand to long-term deals. Whoops.

Donald Sterling owned the team

For 34 years, the Clippers were owned by a racist in Donald Sterling, and it wasn't until a secret tape came to fruition did the league force him to sell the team.

But even after everything hit the fan, Sterling wouldn't go quietly. A series of lengthy legal battles ensued as Sterling fought a generous $2-billion deal brokered by his estranged wife.

Keep in mind that Sterling's purported racism was an issue long before the tape came out. In 2009, Sterling was sued by former general manager Elgin Baylor on the grounds of age and race. Baylor went on to share some truly horrific stories of interactions with Sterling.

During this same period, players Sam Cassell, Elton Brand and Corey Maggette complained to me that Donald Sterling would bring women into the locker room after games, while the players were showering, and make comments such as, "Look at those beautiful black bodies." I brought this to Sterling's attention, but he continued to bring women into the locker room.

Many point to Sterling as the reason why the Clippers are cursed, but even after being banished for life from the NBA, the curse lives on.