landry fields forever
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
February 1992: Sterling finally opens his wallet and lures Larry Brown with a $5 million deal. Brown jumpstarts the team to the happiest two-month stretch in Clipper history -- a nucleus of Manning, Harper, Rivers, Smith and Polynice mesh and magically win TWO WHOLE PLAYOFF GAMES!!!! -- culminating in a tight Game 5 loss at Utah (sometimes shown on ESPN Classic!!!), and Brown telling Sports Illustrated, "I see myself here as long as I'm doing the job, and I would like that to be a long time." He's gone within 12 months.
Spring 1992: With the team finally winning, season-ticket holder Billy Crystal becomes known nationally as the team's first celebrity fan; their Jack Nicholson, for lack of a better description. Even Crystal can't survive the Clipper curse: His next four major movie releases following that '92 playoff run are "Mr. Saturday Night," "City Slickers 2," "Forget Paris" and "My Giant."
Summer 1992: The Clips send two former lottery picks (Smith and Kimble) plus Rivers and Polynice packing in a three-team deal that nets them Stanley Roberts, William Bedford, Don McLean, Mark Jackson and a second-round pick. I know, I can't figure it out either. They also spend the No. 16 pick on Randy Woods. I know, I can't remember him either. They wrap things up by flipping Bedford and McLean to Washington for the immortal John "Hot Plate" Williams. They don't have another winning season for 14 years. This I can figure out.
(Note: Kudos to the Clips for using their playoff appearance as a launching pad to acquire Roberts and Hot Plate, two of the five fattest NBA players of my lifetime along with Thomas Hamilton, Robert Traylor and Oliver Miller. The Clippers didn't discriminate with bad moves -- they went for fat guys, druggies, criminals, guys who didn't care, you name it.)
Summer 1993: After the Clips (40-42) get bounced from the playoffs in Round 1 and Brown resigns as coach, Manning (facing his sixth coach in six seasons) rejects L.A.'s five-year, $27.5 million contract extension. Elgin trades his All-Star forward to Miami for Glen Rice and Willie Burton; Sterling blocks the deal, hoping to re-sign Manning, who finally signs a one-year, $3.5 million tender so he can flee the following summer. Clippers basketball ... it's fantastic! I love this game!
1993-95: The Clips draft Terry Dehere at No. 13 in '93 and Lamond Murray (over Brian Grant and Eddie Jones) at No. 7 in '94; they deal Manning to Atlanta for Dominique Wilkins in a rarely seen "both guys are leaving as free agents" trade (and both do, anyway); they lose Harper to Chicago as a free agent; they turn Jackson into Pooh Richardson and Malik Sealy; they keep losing games; and they keep finishing in the lottery. Lather, rinse, repeat. The good news: No blown ACLs in nearly five years.
June 1995: Picking second in the loaded '95 draft, the Clips draft Antonio McDyess ahead of Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and (gulp) Kevin Garnett, then trade Dice's rights, Elmore Spencer and Woods to Denver for Rodney Rogers, Brian Williams and the No. 15 pick (Brent Barry) … or as I like to call it, "The Chef's Poop Salad." Nobody could turn a dollar into three quarters better than Elgin. Then again, had they rolled the dice with KG, he'd probably be missing appendages right now.
June 1996: Coming off their fourth straight losing season, the Clips somehow end up with the seventh pick in a six-player draft, taking Memphis forward Lorenzen Wright … and Kobe Bryant goes six spots later as the Bryant family continues to haunt the Clips. You know what's fascinating? Kobe is a Hebrew name meaning "supplanter." As in, "You shouldn't have pissed off the Native Americans by supplanting the Buffalo Braves."
By the way, the updated tally on forwards taken in the top nine since 1976 by the Clips: Dantley (6), Brooks (9), Chambers (8), Cummings (2), Williams (4), Manning (1), Smith (3), Ferry (2), Kimble (8), Augmon (9, traded), Murray (7), McDyess (7, traded), Wright (7). Thirteen forwards picked in the top nine in a 20-year stretch. Wow. Again, you're a forward, Blake.
Summer 1997: Another losing season, another forward taken with a first-round pick (Maurice Taylor at No. 14). Elgin spruces things up by swapping Roberts straight up for Stojko Vrankovic and renouncing Dwayne Schintzius' rights five days later. (Put it this way: if you were a crappy center from the '80s or '90s and you DIDN'T play with the Clips, you should be taking this personally.) Meanwhile, Elgin waives Dehere and allows the two best character guys on his team (Malik Sealy and Bo Outlaw) to sign elsewhere, then hands a completely inexplicable five-year, $8.5 million deal to a comically bad center named Keith Closs Jr. (waived within three years). You can feel it coming. The Clips are making a run at the No. 1 overall pick, baby!
November 1997: They lose their leading scorer and rebounder from the previous year (Vaught) to season-ending back surgery. Doctors fuse his fourth and fifth vertebrae back together. He's never the same. The No. 1 pick is in their sights.
February 1998: Headed for another 60-loss season, Elgin swings for the fences and moves Brent Barry to Washington for a No. 1 pick in 1998 (eventually No. 22: Brian Skinner) and Ike Austin. Why? Because he hadn't acquired a semi-talented center with a weight problem in nearly four years, that's why. Come on, No. 1 pick! We're due, baby!
May 1998: The Clips finally win another lottery. One month later, Elgin passes up sure things Mike Bibby, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter and Raef LaFrentz (as well as Dirk Nowitzki and Antawn Jamison) to select the one, the only, Mr. Michael Olowakandi. Trust me, this was absolutely idiotic at the time. The Kandi Man was already 23 and starred at something called "University of the Pacific." Everyone hated this pick. Everyone. But asking Elgin to resist a troubled center with potential is like asking Ryan Reynolds to turn down a crappy script. You just can't do it.
April 1999: The Clippers finish the lockout season with a sterling 9-41 mark, capping off another horrific decade featuring the following win totals by season: 30, 31, 45, 41, 27, 17, 29, 36, 17, nine. Somehow that nine-win season doesn't translate into lottery magic: They earn the fourth spot and settle on -- you guessed it -- another forward! This time, it's Lamar Odom.
(Note: In back-to-back years, they rebuilt the team around the Kandi Man and a guy addicted to candy. And you're not gonna believe this, but it didn't work out well.)
Fall 1999: The Staples Center opens and quickly turns the Clippers into a second-class tenant in their own building. The Lakers are given every choice home date (including Friday and Sunday nights), while the Clips get hand-me-down dates like Monday nights, New Year's Eve, the Monday of Martin Luther King Weekend, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Sunday afternoon games during football season. As if it didn't suck enough to be a Clippers season-ticket holder.
April 2000: Sports Illustrated puts three Clippers fans with bags on their head on the cover with the headline, "THE WORST FRANCHISE IN SPORTS HISTORY."
2000-2002: You're probably old enough to remember what happens here: More losing; another lottery forward (Darius Miles at No. 3); three shockingly savvy trades (the No. 2 overall pick in '01 for Elton Brand, Lorenzen Wright for two future No. 1s, then a future No. 1 for Corey Maggette); one traumatic draft whiff (Chris Wilcox at No. 8, ahead of Amare Stoudemire and Caron Butler) and four other misses (Melvin Ely at No. 12, a future No. 1 for Sean Rooks, and $37 million on extensions for Murray and Eric Piatkowski). During all of this, people briefly become excited about the Suddenly Young And Hip Clippers. Even me. Does it last? Of course not.
Summer 2002: The Clips break up Q and D-Miles -- whose partnership doubled as the only happy thing to happen to the team in 10 years -- by sending Miles to Cleveland for Andre Miller. Poor Andre hates being a Clipper so much that when we approach him that season to appear in a taped "Jimmy Kimmel Live" piece about his teammates' cars, Miller hisses, "Man, I ain't doing s--- for the Clippers!" and walks away. That's your new team, Blake.
2003-04: Despite finishing 27-55, the Clips get the sixth pick in a five-player draft in 2003: LeBron, Darko, Melo, Bosh and Wade. They end up with … Chris Kaman. Oh, and Odom bolts for free agency to Miami. Great. The following year, they miss out on Dwight Howard, trade down from No. 2 to No. 4 (passing up Emeka Okafor) and select promising high school point guard Shaun Livingston. In other news, Mike Dunleavy becomes the new head coach and Bill Simmons buys season tickets. They end up fighting to the death after Simmons charges the court during a 57-point loss to the Lakers in December 2009, acting on behalf of all the beaten-down people who are sitting helplessly around him. But we're getting ahead of themselves.
July 2004: Brand signs an $82 million offer sheet with Miami. Sterling matches. Notice a recurring theme here, Blake? People trying to flee as soon as they can?
July 2004: Kobe teases the Clips into thinking they might sign him, prompting them to dump two valuable role players (Ely and Eddie House) for second-round picks to clear cap space. At the 11th hour, Kobe changes his mind and re-signs with the Lakers. The Supplanter strikes again. Hey, it's not like he won the title five years later. Um …
THE UGLY TOTALS
Final number of rookie forwards drafted in the top nine or higher by the Clips since 1976: Dantley (6), Brooks (9), Chambers (8), Cummings (2), Williams (4), Manning (1), Smith (3), Ferry (2), Kimble (8), Augmon (9, traded), Murray (7), McDyess (7, traded), Wright (7), Odom (4), Miles (2), Chandler (2, traded), Wilcox (8), Griffin (1).
Draft picks the Clips could have made had they just drafted Player B instead of Player A since 1976: Vandeweghe; Wilkins; Willis; Stockton; either McDaniel or Mullin; Price; Pippen, Jackson and Lewis; Rice; Brandon; either Grant or Jones; one of Wallace, Stackhouse or Garnett; Kobe; one of Pierce, Carter or Bibby; Okafor; either Stoudemire or Butler; and Granger.
Players the Clips stupidly gave away or lost without getting anything substantial back: Moses, McAdoo, Dantley, Cummings, Chambers, Manning, Odom, Miller, Brand.
June 2005: The Clips pass on Danny Granger (inexplicably dropping out of the top 10) at No. 12 because Dunleavy made a deal with the one, the only, Yaroslav Korolev (!!!!!!!), a Russian teenager who gets bounced from the NBA in three years because he lacks a single identifiable basketball skill. On the bright side, Elgin spins his first good trade in years, sending frustrating point guard Marko Jaric to Minnesota for Sam Cassell and a future No. 1 pick.
Within a year, Brand and Cassell are leading the Clippers to 47 wins and a playoff berth; the Clippers whup Denver to win their first playoff series in 31 years; and they end up blowing the Phoenix series in Round 2 thanks to Dunleavy (just Google "Raja Bell" and "Daniel Ewing"). Unfortunately, this little taste of success woke up the Native American spirits.
2006-09: Another unexpected wave of bad luck: Even as the '06-07 team is imploding around Dunleavy, the Clips incredibly extend him for another four years … they take another forward with a top-15 pick (Al Thornton in '07) … Brand blows out his Achilles and misses the first five months of the 2007-08 season … Livingston blows out every major ligament in his knee that same season (killing his career with the Clippers) … Baron Davis signs with the Clips as a free agent in 2009 to play with Brand, then Brand backstabs him by signing for $84 million with Philly … the Clips panic and trade for $27 million-a-year worth of Marcus Camby and Zach Randolph to replace him … Davis gets turned off quickly and starts sticking 41-cent stamps on games … Elgin is finally fired and nails Sterling with a racial discrimination suit … really, the only good thing that happens is a promising rookie season from Eric Gordon (the No. 7 pick in '08). Just by mentioning this, I feel like I'm going to cause one of Gordon's retinas to shatter or something.
May 2009: The Clippers land the No. 1 pick in the lottery for the third time in 26 years. And guess what, Blake? That night, I received a handful of snarky e-mails from readers pretending to be one of your anguished ACLs. It's true.
Here's how the past decade ended in terms of wins for the Clippers (by season): 15, 31, 39, 27, 28, 37, 47, 40, 23, 19.
Our final tally of post-1976 injuries to marquee Clippers players: five career-altering knee injuries (Livingston, Manning, Harper, Smith, Nixon), one career-ending ruptured disc (Johnson), one career-altering back surgery (Vaught), three season-ending torn Achilles (Brand, Archibald, Nixon), one heart arrithymia (Cummings) and multiple foot stress fractures (Walton). Every one of those guys was a top-three player on the team or headed that way.
Total number of post-1976 All-Star appearances by a Clipper or Brave: Seven.
Number of winning Clipper/Brave seasons since 1976: Two.
Number of post-1976 seasons with 30 wins or less: 19.
Number of post-1976 division titles: Zero.
Number of post-1976 last-place finishes: 15.
Number of retired numbers by the Braves/Clippers: Zero.
Overall record since 1976: 944-1730 (.353 winning percentage).
Number of curses that, as far as I can tell, are still going: One.
So that's your new team, Blake Griffin. You have 33 straight years of bad luck working against you. You're entering a world of "Tonight Show" putdowns and half-empty buildings. You're playing for the worst possible owner and the worst possible coach for the Lakers' ugly stepbrother in Los Angeles. You're dealing with a dwindling fan base that's almost supernaturally depressed at this point. You will be the 18th forward they drafted with a top-nine draft pick since 1976. None of them lasted longer than six seasons on the Clippers. Not one.
Since 1976, the Clippers have drafted only one player who made an All-Star team as a Clipper: Danny Manning in 1993 and 1994. Think about that for a second. It's impossible. It's absolutely true. They made 38 first-round picks since 1980; you will be No. 39. They earned a top-10 pick 23 times since the '76 draft; of those 23 times, 12 were in the top four and three were No. 1 overall. They failed to turn the first 21 chances into a Hall of Famer, borderline Hall of Famer or perennial All-Star. The 22nd chance was Gordon; the 23rd chance is you. The odds are against both of you.
Again, I would start running right now. But if you choose to stay, I have an idea: Trek into the desert like Jim Morrison did in "The Doors," bring Gordon with you, drop some acid and try to connect with a Native American shaman. Or you could fly to Buffalo with Baron and Gordon, find some sacred ground and make some atonements. Maybe you could even bring a white buffalo with you. Just make sure you do something. This is bigger than you. And us.
Good luck breaking the Curse of the Sacred Buffalo.