Friday night at the Staples Center, Phil Jackson's Lakers stretched a three-point halftime lead into a 40-point blowout of the Clippers. That's not surprising.
Jackson's snide comments about the Clippers' "curse" existing only as karma for owner Donald Sterling's discriminatory housing practices and general poor execution of this whole humanity thing shouldn't be, either.
After a long hiatus from tossing rocks at the down-the-hall neighbors, Jackson lobbed some barbs at the Clippers' owner before the game.
In the wake of the Griffin season-ending injury news, Jackson was asked whether he believed in curses or hexes -- the suggestive question being whether the Clippers were, uh, cursed or hexed.
"I'm of that generation that believed in karma," Jackson said.
"If you do a good mitzvah, maybe you can eliminate some of those things. Do you think that Sterling's done enough mitzvahs to eliminate some of those? How about all those other incidents that we have on file?"
I understand the tendency to want to ascribe futility of this magnitude to something more than what happens on the court and in the boardroom. But, hey, is it possible that the Clippers have just royally screwed up the management of an NBA franchise for decades?
The team's great talents, Bob McAdoo and World B. Free and Elton Brand and Baron Davis, have been either surrounded by subpar peers or shipped out of town too soon. The best coach they ever had, Larry Brown, left after two years, as Larry Brown is wont to do. The magic of their Western Conference semifinals run in the 2005-06 season was limited to one year by injuries. The Clips have drafted Yaroslev Karolev and Michael Olowokandi, been coached by Bob Weiss and Mike Dunleavy, and generally failed to make their own luck throughout their existence. They are responsible for their failure.
The horrific injuries to Blake Griffin and Shaun Livingston, those unpredictable shocks, can be used to construct a loose narrative of a curse, connected to buried bones of Native Americans by amateur conspiracy theorists. Or they can be viewed, rightly, as freak accidents that have nothing to do with previous events.
The idea that there is a connection between what Sterling does and how his team performs need not require karma. Sterling has owned the Clippers for almost thirty years. He has been responsible for many of the hirings and firings the team has made. He is, thus, responsible for the Clippers' fortunes on the court because of decisions he made, directly or indirectly, about the on-court Clippers.
Karma's got nothing to do with that. But Phil Jackson can feel free to haughtily claim a high-minded belief that Sterling's ugly personal behavior has brought down the universe's judgment on his team. It's more fun than plainly stating the Clippers have been bad and unlucky, no?
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.