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Mike Dunleavy was LA Clippers' Wizard of Aw's: Awesome, Awful, Then Awkward

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  Head coach Mike Dunleavy of the Los Angeles Clippers stands on the sideline in the second quarter during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 15, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Andre VergaraContributor IMarch 12, 2010

Ding-dong, the witch is dead!

Which old witch?

The wicked witch!

The cheap-suit-wearing, arms-folded-squinty-eyed-staring, no-halftime-adjustment-preparing witch!

For Clipper Nation, two Mike Dunleavy bootings in one month is as good as it’s gonna get this season. If changing coaches was throwing the bucket of water on Dumbleavy, then firing him as GM without warning was dropping the house on him.

If Donald Sterling could get him evicted from his L.A. home to boot, it would almost feel like making the playoffs. Or at least winning a game in Utah.

Maybe I’m being Bill Simmons-type hard on the old guy. After all, I joined his hair club for men after he took the Clips on the best playoff run in their L.A. history. He loaded the team with talents like Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, and Marcus Camby, and managed to improve on last season’s win total without having Blake Griffin lace ’em up once.

Is it fair to blame Dunleavy for the Clipper Curse that struck Griffin, Shaun Livingston, and Elton Brand, and the sorry seasons that followed? Can you blame him for rolling the dice on Baron Davis, after a season of splitting time between Brevin Knight and Dan Dickau at the point, or Zach Randolph, who matured into an All-Star just a few months too late for Clippers fans?

Can you blame him for having Scrooge McDuck as his owner?

No. But there were too many one-win road trips. Too many Tim Thomases and not enough character guys. Too many pieces to miss the playoffs in ’06-'07.

And there was Dumbleavy’s smug attitude, challenging Sterling to find someone who could do better.

Do better than 19 wins? How about any-damn-body?

Well, “anybody” is who’s coaching them now and for the foreseeable future. With their luck, it’s pointless to think the Clips will have Avery Johnson or Byron Scott on the sideline next year. Might as well launch BringBackBillFitch.com.

Sure, you’ll say hand the keys to LeBron James and tell him he can pick his new coach and GM. On his way out, Dumbleavy couldn’t help but pat himself on the back for clearing cap space with his recent trades and positioning the Clippers for the future.

Uh-huh, OK, and Kobe Bryant was really that close to being a Clipper.

In reality, the Clips will get rejected by LeBron and the other franchise players and end up overpaying for Tayshaun Prince or somebody, and then fill out the roster with guys from Maccabi Tel Aviv, or worse, the Knicks.

As L.A. Times columnist T.J. Simers points out, “Last time around, Plan B after failing to land Kobe was Kerry Kittles, which suggests the Clippers struggle some when it comes to Plan B.”

Or when it comes to the third quarter. Or when it comes to guarding Anthony Tolliver. Or when it comes to cutting their losses.

The only thing more foolish than thinking that firing Dumbleavy is the answer?

Thinking that there is one. When it comes to the Clippers, the ruby slippers never quite fit, and the road of bricks is endless.

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