The first few months of the post-Chris Paul Era for the Clippers haven’t exactly been awesome. Patrick Beverley has already been lost for the season. Milos Teodosic, the guy everyone was clamoring to see, left the home opener with a foot injury and hasn’t returned. And Danilo Gallinari has missed the last 10 games. But here’s the good news: they beat the Lakers last night to win their third straight game and pull within three games of .500. And that’s where the good news ends.
And possibly where the nightmare begins, because they lost Blake Griffin in the process and it didn’t look good. With less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Griffin, Lonzo Ball and Austin Rivers were battling for a loose ball on the floor and the result was ugly.
Knees aren’t supposed to move that way. And yet, somehow, Griffin stayed in the game for a little longer. Doc Rivers said later, “I knew immediately, I thought. But then Blake said he was OK. I just saw his leg go in, and then when they switched on back-to-back plays, he couldn’t move so we had to get him out of the game.”
Griffin will be evaluated today and if he misses time, it’ll be brutal news for a team that’s already going through a brutal season.
But it isn’t exactly shocking. This isn’t wrecking his hand punching an assistant equipment manager in the face, this is just flat out bad luck. Punching a staff member is asinine. This is just unlucky.
And it’s something that he’s dealt with for a number of years now. Broken left kneecap before his first season. Torn left meniscus three years later. Surgery on his right knee last year. Big toe injury in last year’s playoffs. He hasn’t played more than 67 games over the last three seasons and now, in a season where they’ve never needed him more than they do now, there’s a chance they could be without him for a while. Again, we don’t know how serious the injury is. And there’s a chance that it isn’t that bad. But I also know how Clipper fans think and I know the phrase “Clippers Curse” is in the back of all your heads.
And I can’t tell you that it shouldn’t be. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in curses or jinxes or anything like that, but I can’t tell you that it’s all in your head, either. You had Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and JJ Redick, and couldn’t quite cash it in. Not only that, but the ways that they weren’t cashed in were brutal. Blowing the 3-1 series lead in 2015. Losing Paul and Griffin in the same playoff game in 2016. And losing to the Jazz in Game 7 at home in 2017.
In the offseason, Paul leaves and is on fire with the Rockets now. Redick leaves and is part of the Sixers revitalization project. Griffin stays and gets injured. And nearly everyone who joined the team in the offseason has gotten injured as well. Remember when some people tried to suggest that maybe the Clippers would be better without Paul? Me neither. That was a ridiculous take at the time and looks even worse now.
Again, I don’t believe in curses, I’m not going to talk about curses or blame this on some mysterious force. But I’m not sure I can stop you if you want to. I just know that Steve Ballmer doesn’t strike me as a guy who believes in curses.
So there you go, Clipper Nation. Keep your fingers crossed for the Blake Griffin evaluation today. Hopefully the news is good. But even if it’s bad, turn up, love you guys, awesome.
Oh, and if you couldn’t win with all-time great point guard like Chris Paul, how the hell are you going to win without him? And especially without Blake Griffin if you lose him. Again. The answer, obviously, is you’re not. That window not only slammed shut, it’s painted over and may not open ever again.