You might remember a column Bill Simmons wrote before last year’s draft addressing Blake Griffin and his future with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Sports Guy outlined all of the horrible things that have happened to the Clippers franchise and its players. He summarized, “this went deeper than one person. This was karmic. This was creepy. This was like … they'd been hexed. Like they had built an arena on a sacred burial ground or something. And that's when I realized what happened. In a way, they did mess with a sacred burial ground. They messed with the Indians. And you don't mess with the Indians. Ever.”
The bad luck dates back to June 14, 1976, when Buffalo Braves owner Paul Synder decided to sell the team, and subsequently moved it to San Diego and later Los Angeles. With the cross country move, the franchise stripped itself of all affiliation with Native American heritage, and decided to rename the team the “Clippers”. That seems to be when the “curse” began. Simmons’ satirical column turned eerily prophetic when Blake Griffin suffered a stress fracture in his knee the day before the season started and missed his entire rookie year. I’m going to borrow the idea and write a letter to former Villanova Wildcat and new Los Angeles Clipper Randy Foye…
“Run. Just start running. Run for your life. Run like the star of a horror movie. Don't turn around. Run and keep running.”
You just signed a two year contract worth over $8 million with the Los Angeles Clippers. Congratulations, that’s a lot of money, but for the sake of your ACL’s maybe you should have considered somewhere else. You’re really pushing your luck, considering you already have a history of knee injury, missing half of the 2007-2008 season. Just take a look at some of the horrific injuries that have befallen the Clippers’ major draft/trade/free agent acquisitions over the years:
- 1977: A month after the Clippers traded for all star Tiny Archibald, he tore his Achilles and missed the entire season.
- 1979: Clippers signed free agent Bill Walton. He played 14 games for them in his first three years, and just 169 games through his six year contract with the team.
- 1980: Clippers drafted Michael Brooks ninth overall, and after three-plus seasons, he blew out his knee and never played another game for the Clippers.
- 1983: Clippers traded for Norm Nixon, who blew out his knee playing softball after three seasons, then thirteen months later he ruptured his Achilles tendon.
- 1983: Rookie of the Year Terry Cummings was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart arrhythmia.
- 1985: Rising star Derek Smith blew out his knee eleven games into the season and was never the same.
- 1986: Marques Johnson ruptured a disk in his neck after an accidental collision with his own teammate. It was a career-ending injury.
- 1988: #1 pick Danny Manning blew out his ACL after just 26 games with the Clippers.
- 1989: Ron Harper blew out his ACL 28 games after the Clippers traded for him.
- 1997: Leading scorer and rebounder Loy Vaught had season-ending back surgery.
- 2007: Elton Brand blew out his Achilles.
- 2007: Shaun Livingston suffered one of the most gruesome knee injuries ever caught on live TV.
Sure, you can compile bad luck and injury lists like this with just about every team in the NBA, but the difference is the Clippers haven’t had good luck in its history to counterbalance it. I’m sure you had other options, like the Nets, who will be playing in your hometown of Newark this season. Then again, you run the risk of getting banished to Siberia if Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov isn’t pleased with your play. You could have gone across the river to boost your stats in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Or how about “taking your talents to South Beach” and joining the new Triumvirate to chase a ring or ten. You’d have to take a major pay cut, but I’m sure you’d be paid the difference under the table like the rest of the team inevitably will. You even could have returned to your first team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. GM David Kahn apparently has some kind of unhealthy infatuation with point guards that rivals only Jay Wright, so I’m sure he’d welcome you back.
Curses aside, the Clippers are actually a great fit basketball-wise for you, Randy, and the weather isn’t too bad in LA either. The team has some young talent with Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Ryan Gomes, and rookies Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe, plus veterans Baron Davis and Chris Kaman. You will likely be the first guard off the bench subbing in for Davis at the point or Gordon at the two.
“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.”
I don't really believe in curses, anyway. Or do I? No, I don't. But if there is a curse, let's hope you're the one to break it, or at least stay healthy for these next 2-3 years until you join a franchise that isn't cursed. Like the Cavs.
“Good luck breaking the Curse of the Sacred Buffalo.”