From around 1979 until Blake Griffin and Chris Paul arrived, there was something that hung over the Clippers’ heads like a storm cloud… The dreaded “Clippers Curse.” At first it was something that was talked about among Clippers fans and the media when referring to all of the bad luck with players the team had. But then it took on a life of its own, and like “urban legend,” became something people really believed existed. And in fact, based on their history of bad luck, it was hard to disregard. For years, players that came to the Clippers organization would experience season-ending and sometimes career-ending injuries. So often, that players thought being traded to or drafted by the Clippers was the “kiss-of-death.”
This included top NBA players like Bill Walton (1979, never the same player that averaged a double-double), Norm Nixon (1983, knee injury), Terry Cummings (1982, heart arrhythmia), Derek Smith (1985, knee injury), Marques Johnson (1986, ruptured disc in his neck), Danny Manning (1988, knee injury), Ron Harper (1989, blew out knee), Elton Brand (2007, ruptured Achilles tendon). In the 1998 draft, the Clippers got the number one overall pick and passed on future impact players like Dirk Nowitski, Vince Carter and Paul Pierce to draft Michael Olowokandi, who never shot more than 44 percent from the field in his five seasons with the team. And that’s only about half of all the misfortunes that the Clippers endured for so many years.
Now, the argument could be made that the L.A. Lakers are the unlucky recipients of the dreaded curse. It appears that the curse suspiciously arrived around the same time that the team acquired all-star point guard Steve Nash on July 11, 2012, in a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix. In the second game of the 2012–13 season, Nash suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left leg after a collision with Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. He was expected to miss at least one week, but was out of the lineup for close to seven weeks. Nash would return, but missed the last eight games of the season with a right hip injury that also caused nerve damage in his right hamstring. The following season, Nash continued to suffer nerve problems stemming from his leg injury the prior season. Ultimately, Nash would play only 15 games during the 2013-14 season because of his injuries. All together, Lakers players during the same year, missed 319 games due to injury leading the NBA, and the team used 35 different starting lineups. Kobe Bryant missed 76 games due to a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee, Xavier Henry sat out 39 games, Jordan Hill 10 games, Jordan Farmar 41 games, Pau Gasol 22 games and Nick Young 18 games. With other players missing a few games apiece here and there throughout the year.
Fast-forward to the beginning of the 2014-15 season where Steve Nash, who had worked hard rehabilitating all summer long, was only able to muster up 1 ½ preseason games before announcing he would be out for the remainder of the 2014-15 season due to those same nagging back injuries. And to add insult to injury (pun intended), Julius Randle, the Lakers’ 1st round draft pick and the seventh overall selection in June, suffered a fractured tibia in the fourth quarter on NBA Premiere night in the Lakers’ season-opening loss to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. Randle is expected to miss the rest of the season after the rookie forward underwent successful surgery on October 29th to repair the fractured tibia that he suffered in his very first NBA game. Put all that together with the fact that Nick Young hasn’t played a game this season because of a torn radial collateral ligament in his right thumb, Xavier Henry, nursing a knee injury, has played a whopping 18 minutes in the first 4 games and Ryan Kelly has been out for nearly a month with hamstring issues, and you’ve got the makings of a genuine curse. Which would give credence to the theory that the “Clipper’s Curse,” has changed jerseys and is now wearing the purple and gold of the Lakers.