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Clippers curse claims Griffin
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With the sad news that Blake Griffin’s fractured left kneecap isn’t healing properly and requires season-ending surgery, the Clippers' hopes for a once-in-a-lifetime, star-quality power forward to lead them deep into the playoffs is dashed.
Actually, the Clippers have had only two winning seasons in 30 years and one escape from a first-round playoff appearance since they moved to L.A. in 1985, so the team’s expectations were comparatively modest. But, although the team has been playing well lately, it’s now highly improbable that this dismal pattern will change to any considerable degree.
In Griffin’s absence, Marcus Camby will continue to be the starting power forward with Craig Smith filling in at the backup slot. It should be noted that in all probability neither Camby nor Smith will be unduly perturbed by retaining their bountiful playing time.
Are there any positives to this unfortunate development?
Although Griffin averaged an impressive 14 points and 8 rebounds in the preseason before injuring himself in the very last of these relatively meaningless contests, the Clippers won’t be frustrated by Griffin’s unavoidable rookie mistakes. Blown defensive rotations. Opponents directly attacking him and routinely getting him in early foul trouble. The offense suddenly halted because of his confusion.
Not much consolation here.
The negatives, meanwhile, are extremely significant:
Being deprived of a player who combines Smith’s power and Camby’s quick athleticism.
Wasting a precious season in Griffin’s apprenticeship.
Moreover, the Clippers' plan to trade Camby is now defunct.
Even though the prognosis is that Griffin will be completely recovered in four months, there are no guarantees that the weakness in his knee won’t become a chronic worry — nor that he will ever make a full recovery.
Shades of Greg Oden! What are the odds that two top draftees would suffer such debilitating injuries in three years?
And how about the fact that the Clippers practically gave away Zach Randolph — who has become a slimmed-down scoring and rebounding machine for Memphis — in order to make room for Griffin?
Surely the Clippers' front office must be reminded of previous No. 1 picks that turned out to be major disappointments.
One example is Danny Manning, who tore a ligament in 1988 and played only 26 games in his rookie season. For sure, Manning was a certified All-Star during his stint in L.A., but he also abandoned the franchise ASAP as a free agent and never truly became the transcendent player that he was expected to be.
Then there was Michael Olowokandi, another top-of-the list selection in 1998, who only played in 45 games during his rookie season — and was an underachiever throughout his career.
Through the years, the Clippers have likewise wasted their first-round picks on the likes of Yaroslav Korolev, Melvin Ely, Chris Wilcox, Darius Miles, Greg Minor, Lorenzen Wright, Randy Woods, Terry Dehere, Bo Kimble and many more.
So, the Clippers will make do with what they have and be satisfied to squeeze out a winning season and avoid being swept in the opening round of the money season.
But if there never really was such a thing as the Clipper Curse, there surely is one now.
If you have a question or comment for Charley Rosen, please email email@example.com and he may respond in a future column.
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