Why are the Clippers one of the worst franchises in sports? Well, they have an awful owner in Donald Sterling. They've also made their share of terrible draft picks and stupid trades. But the biggest factor may just be bad luck. Call it the Clippers Curse, and it may have struck again when stars Blake Griffin (sprained left knee) and Chris Paul (strained hip flexor) were injured in Wednesday's Game 5 loss to the Grizzlies, then were largely ineffective in Game 6. But this is nothing new. Here are the 10 worst instances of the curse over the team's sad and inglorious history.
Shaun Livingston's grisly knee injury
The No. 4 pick in the 2003 draft out of high school, Livingston was starting to live up to his promise four years later when he suffered a catastrophic injury. While driving for an uncontested layup, Livingston landed awkwardly and his left knee dislocated in gruesome fashion with three torn ligaments. He never played for the Clippers again, though he did return to the NBA several years later.
Marques Johnson's ruptured disk
In 1984, the Clippers made a blockbuster six-player trade with the Bucks that brought Johnson, a four-time All-Star, back to his hometown of Los Angeles. He made another All-Star team in 1986 but injured his neck the next season when he collided with teammate Benoit Benjamin while chasing a loose ball. The injury effectively ended his NBA career. He retired after a 10-game stint with the Warriors two years later.
Tiny Archibald's ruptured Achilles' tendon
Technically, this can't be part of the Clippers Curse because it happened before the Buffalo Braves franchise moved to Southern California and changed its name. But how's this for bad luck? In 1977 the Braves traded for Archibald, a three-time All-Star point guard, but he tore his Achilles' tendon and never played for Buffalo. Traded to the Celtics, he made three more All-Star teams and helped Boston win the 1981 title.
Terry Cummings' heart condition
The Clippers appeared to have a franchise player when they took Cummings with the No. 2 overall pick in 1982. He averaged 23.7 points and 10.4 rebounds as a rookie, then was promptly diagnosed with a potentially deadly heart arrhythmia the next summer. The Clippers traded him to Milwaukee a year later in the deal that brought them Marques Johnson. Cummings ended up making two All-Star teams with the Bucks and played 18 NBA seasons.
Ron Harper's torn ACL
After taking Duke star Danny Ferry with the No. 2 pick in the 1989 draft, the Clippers were forced to deal him to Cleveland when Ferry threatened to play in Italy. Harper, an explosive shooting guard, came to L.A. as part of the trade and averaged 23 points in his first 28 games before suffering a knee injury that robbed him of much of his athleticism. He later reinvented himself as a defender and savvy veteran, but not with the Clippers. He won five titles with the Bulls and Lakers.
Blake Griffin's knee injury
It didn't take long for the Clippers Curse to strike Griffin, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft. In L.A.'s final preseason game, he broke his left kneecap as he landed after a dunk. He missed the entire season, but he returned the next year to win Rookie of the Year and the NBA's Slam Dunk contest. Griffin is a superstar in the making if the curse doesn't get him again.
Norm Nixon's knee injuries
The Clippers were excited to get Nixon, who helped the Lakers win two titles, in a 1983 trade for the draft rights to Byron Scott. Nixon led the NBA in assists and made the All-Star team in his first year with the Clips, then had two more solid seasons before blowing out a knee during a summer softball game in New York's Central Park. He ruptured an Achilles' tendon a year later and retired in 1989.
Elton Brand's ruptured Achilles' tendon
Brand breathed new life into the Clippers when he came over from the Bulls in a blockbuster 2001 trade. He made the All-Star team the next season, then in 2006 led the Clippers to their first playoff series win in 31 years. With enthusiasm about the team at an all-time high, Brand blew out his Achilles and missed most of the next season. Two years later he bolted for Philly as a free agent and the Clippers didn't sniff the playoffs again until 2012.
Bill Walton's multiple stress fractures
The Clippers knew they were taking a risk when they signed the 1978 league MVP to a lucrative six-year deal as a free agent in 1979. After all, Walton had missed 203 games in his first five seasons because of repeated stress fractures in his feet. So it was no shock that Walton played just 169 games in six seasons as a Clipper. Of course, once they traded him to the Celtics, Walton got healthy all of a sudden. Including the playoffs, he played 96 of 100 games the next season for Boston during its championship run, earning Sixth Man of the Year.
Danny Manning's torn ACL
No one personifies the Clippers Curse more than Manning, who was expected to save the franchise as the No. 1 pick out of Kansas in 1988. After scoring nearly 3,000 points as a Jayhawk and leading his team to the national title, the 6-foot-10 forward played just 26 NBA games before blowing out an ACL. He still had a decent career, making two All-Star teams, but he couldn't escape the curse that has afflicted most of the team's stars over the years. Will Chris Paul and Blake Griffin be any different?