The Lakers are one of the most storied and successful franchises in all of sports. The individuals who have been a part of that organization take up an entire wing of the Basketball Hall of Fame. From the basketball court, to the front office the mainstay has been Jerry West.
Meanwhile the Los Angeles Clippers have been a laughingstock for much of their existence. While they boast seven Hall of Famers who have graced their all-time roster; all made their name while playing elsewhere. I would be hard pressed to determine who the most accomplished Clipper actually is. Historically they have been routinely voted not only as the worst NBA franchise, but the worst franchise in all of sports.
Many attribute the Clippers failings to a curse. Under owner Donald Sterling, they made money. In fact the Clippers never had a losing financial “season”. That financial success did not translate to on court success. Sterling purchased the Clippers in 1981. They did not have a winning season until 1992. In the Nineties they enjoyed two non-losing seasons. In the 2000’s, it was a return to their normalcy as there was only one winning season. The 2010’s would see a change in fortunes for the woe begotten Clippers. They became known as Lob City and were now one of the best teams in the league. With a nucleus of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, it was not uncommon to see the Clippers favored to win the West.
The Curse is Real
The Clippers had a new look, even a new feel about them. They won division titles and legions of new fans. They became the talk of the league. It was exciting. Even Sterling caught the bug. He was at last ready to actually loosen the purse strings and pay to have a winner. Now expectations were being placed on them. The Clippers despite being favored could never make it past the second round. They changed owners and front office personnel. They brought in a championship coach and still could not get out of their own way. The curse would not allow it. The curse had the franchise in a baby chokehold. There were inexplicable losses and meltdowns in the playoffs. This prompted Magic Johnson to refrain, “same old Clippers”.
Enter the Logo
Jerry West along with Bill Sharman turned the Lakers into the glamour franchise of the league. From Showtime to the Shaq and Kobe era, the Lakers have enjoyed enviable success. Nicknamed “the logo”, West is considered the greatest NBA executive ever. He was wooed to the Clippers by new owner Steve Ballmer. His mission is to deliver a championship to a long suffering fan base. In order to accomplish this, he will need to lift the curse. And this will require reinforcements.
Enter the Dynasty Killer
Help has arrived in the form of newly acquired free agent Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is on his own quest for basketball immortality. He has been dubbed “The Dynasty Killer”. He was banished to Toronto, a team notorious in their own right for playoff meltdowns. While there he put an entire nation on his back. When it was time for the Raptors normally scheduled collapse, he willed them to greatness. If he wins here like he did in Toronto, they will also call him “The Ring Bearer”.
Trying to lift the curse has given lesser men a sports hernia. Still, West has the Clippers poised to win the title in the upcoming season. He has won everywhere he has gone. This will be his biggest challenge ever.