For years my best friend out in Los Angeles has been a Clippers fan. He had a Clippers jersey back in the 90s when people would openly make fun of him for rolling out to the beach with his red, white, and blue support. There was a great SI cover in 2000 featuring Clippers “fans.” That was when I began to understand the travesty that was being the “other” Los Angeles team.
The Clippers have never won a title. In fact, until this summer, they had never been to the Western Conference Finals before. It seemed the curse of the Clippers had been lifted.
On the other side of the coin, Chris Paul had taken the brunt of the Clippers woes for six of those years. You can blame Doc Rivers, you can blame DeAndre Jordan, you can blame Blake Griffin, but everyone blamed Chris Paul. Even Paul referred to his legacy being listed as a “curse.” The Clippers failure to make it to the Western Conference Finals landed on Paul’s shoulders and questioned his leadership on the hardwood throughout his career.
In each season since Paul left Los Angeles, he has improved the team he has joined. He was responsible for lifting the Harden led Houston Rockets from perennial postseason hacks to Finals threat. Paul took an otherwise tanking Oklahoma City Thunder into the postseason and made the trade for Russell Westbrook look unfair for Houston. The Rockets, OKC, and Phoenix instantly improved with the addition of CP3.
In 2018, it looked like the Houston Rockets would give Paul his first Finals appearance, but a pulled hamstring in Game 5 left Paul unavailable and the Rockets choked and dropped the final two games to the Golden State Warriors.
It has seemed for quite some time that Chris Paul was indeed cursed.
But now, it appears as if the curse belonged to the Los Angeles Clippers all along. The Clips lost their best player to injury in the Western Conference Semifinals. For a moment, it appeared as if Paul George was going to emerge as the star of the postseason. But missed free throws in clutch time eventually led to the demise of the Clippers. His streakiness kept the Clippers alive when he scored 41 in Game 5 and cost them the series in Game 6.
The curse is real. The curse continues.
But the curse does not belong to Chris Paul.
And now Chris Paul is heading to the Finals. He has the opportunity to have his name removed from the list of those players who will never earn a title. He’s now in the “best bet” column.
Win or lose, Chris Paul has already proven himself.
The curse is real. But it was never Chris Paul who was cursed. It was the Clippers all along.
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