The Los Angeles Clippers are the red circle of death of the NBA

The Pelicans unplugged the Clippers’ controller.

The Pelicans unplugged the Clippers’ controller.
Image: Getty Images

Man, Steve Ballmer had to be feeling really good when he first got Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. I mean like “Steve Ballmer hyping up a pep rally” good or “Christmas morning presents as a child” good. He felt “Just bought a brand new XBox and am barely able to drive home below the speed limit” good.


And, boy, is a new XBox fun. You play it for a year maybe. Halo and Gears of War are great, but before you’re even able to get used to A, B, X, Y over square, circle, triangle and X during a season of NCAA College Football, you get the red ring of death, and there’s nothing you or Microsoft can do to revive you once shiny, utopia-promising toy.

Unlike my dearly discarded XBox, the Clippers still have a chance to make good on the title that Leonard and George promised, but it’s not happening this year. Ty Lue did everything he could to try to get this team to the postseason, and yet a glitch in the system still occurred, with a positive COVID test forcing George to sit out what ended up being the team’s final game of the season, a 105-101 loss to the Pelicans on Friday night.

(If you’re asking, yes, I’m going to continue milking this passable analogy for the entire $375 that that piece of junk cost me. I’m still playing my Playstation 3 even though it sounds like a jet engine because the Uncharted games are fun to revisit and because it still functions.)

I doubt any LA fans dabbled in Clippers fandom the way I dabbled in shoddy Microsoft tech after a successful stint with a storied franchise like Playstation or the Lakers, and how can you blame anyone who was stupid enough to try to flip-flop back to old reliable? The Clippers as a franchise feel like a lifeless piece of technology. If existing counts as “storied history” they have it in spades.

I’ve done an article on LA’s other NBA team a couple different times, and it could be that I’m not as good of a writer as I think I am, but no one seemed to ever read them. That said, the reason why I think no one reads those pieces is because the Clippers don’t evoke emotion one way or the other.

It’s hard finding an angle when writing about the Clippers because they’re the Clippers. Donald Sterling got booted from ownership, and every guy on that team still played basketball like they hated life. Adding a couple hometown talents didn’t endear the team to LA fans. If anything it turned the two stars into traitors for not going to the Lakers, and made the franchise slightly more annoying.


Yeah, LeBron James and Anthony Davis had an all-time embarrassing season this year, but they won a title. The Lakers sucking unsurprisingly garnered more press than Lue overachieving without his best players.


You can call the Clippers’ play-in loss against the Pelicans on Friday night a choke job if you want. They were up three with five minutes left. But the real missed opportunity — besides having a Finals MVP and an All-NBA wing in their primes for three years with only an appearance in the Western Conference Finals to show for it — was Tuesday night against Minnesota when George played and the team still squandered a 10-point fourth quarter lead and a playoff berth to team whose best player was in foul trouble the entire game.

We’re way past the point of expecting this team to contend for a title. They can add all the All Stars, coaches, arenas, and fans Microsoft can buy, and the end result will be the same. Publicity comes their way because they’re in LA, and they have legitimately great players. Basketball writers are obligated to talk about the Clippers the same way they’re required to talk about Brooklyn.


Nice job, fellas. Way to find the two teams in major markets that evoke a collective “Meh.” It’s like buying a Ferrari SUV. You can brag about being in LA or New York or a $300,000 car all you want, but that doesn’t make it cool. At least Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving give interesting or outlandish quotes.

I’m done feigning enthusiasm for Clippers storylines. The only reason I wrote this was because I had an XBox analogy that works on two levels, I have a beef with Microsoft, and it’s fun to see billionaires’ expensive toys go up in flames.


Wait, does “exhausted by a team’s excessive blandness” qualify as an emotion? It does?! Well, shit, I guess congratulations are in order for the Clippers — because the playoffs certainly aren’t.

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