But history won’t remember that team for its ability, because its accomplishments don’t match.
Between the 2011-12 and 2016-17 seasons, the Clippers won nearly 66% of their games. Only the Spurs and Warriors won more.
But the Clippers weren’t one of the four teams to win a championship in that span. The Clippers weren’t one of the five teams to make the NBA Finals in that span. The Clippers weren’t even one of the 11 teams to make a conference finals in that span.
“Doc used to always say in order to win a championship, you gotta be lucky, Chris Paul said. “We never were lucky. I don’t think the Donald Sterling thing had anything to do with our shortcomings as a team. It was definitely a bump in the road, something unexpected, but that’s life.”
Doc Rivers is right: You have to be lucky to win a title. Every championship team has gotten favorable breaks.
Paul is right: The Clippers were never lucky. Both he and Blake Griffin had ill-timed injuries in multiple years. Josh Smith sinking 3-pointers was unfortunate for L.A.
But that also came in blowing a 3-1 lead to the Rockets in 2015. Smith’s hot streak was not all that went wrong for the Clippers. So much was in their control – in that series and beyond.
The Clippers still got close enough to win a championship with the right breaks. They never got those breaks.
But they also could have done more themselves to need fewer breaks. They have to own that part of the complex story.