Wednesday 24 August 2016

Clippers come alive as curse of Sterling lifted

Michael McCarthy

Published 07/05/2014 | 02:30

Donald Sterling
Donald Sterling

Last week, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist comments caught on tape brought the NBA more mainstream international attention than it has had in years. It all culminated in NBA commissioner Adam Silver taking the necessary but bold step to ban Sterling for life and basically take away his right to own the team.

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The Clippers have long been the laughing stock of the NBA and a byword for failure in American sports. In the 32 years Sterling has owned the team, they've consistently been one of the worst franchises in basketball, a notable achievement in a league that promotes parity with a strong salary cap.

Highly rated players signed there and were immediately struck down with career-threatening injuries. Sportswriters talked of a curse – the Clipper Triangle.

In recent years, with the acquisition of superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the organisation is finally being talked about for the right reasons.

Their exciting brand of basketball earned the nickname 'Lob City' and comes ready made for highlight reels. With the addition of former Boston Celtics title-winning coach Doc Rivers this season, it looked like they'd made the transition from exciting to good.

Then, just as it seemed they finally had the chance to win, Sterling was going to hold them back yet again. Right in the middle of their tight first-round play-off series with the Golden State Warriors, the biggest scandal to hit the NBA in years erupted around them. Were the Clippers really cursed?

Before game 4 with the Warriors, the players made a silent protest by wearing their warm-up gear inside out. But they went out and, as centre DeAndre Jordan has since admitted, were not themselves.

Before Silver's announcement last Tuesday, there was a genuine fear there would be a boycott of Game 5.

Instead, with Sterling banished, they won the game and later, the series.

On Monday night, the Clippers travelled to the highly-rated Oklahoma City and destroyed the soon-to-be-named league MVP Kevin Durant in Game 1 of the second round. Finally free from the curse of Sterling, maybe this is at last the year for the most maligned franchise in American sports.

Irish Independent

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