In ancient times, people used curses as a way to rationalize the random acts of tragedy that befell them. Many felt their behavior directly caused the wrath of the gods, others argued it was simply nature running its course. As our culture progressed to modern times, this same black cloud of ill tidings has moved over the hardwood, soaking the floorboards with its acidic rain of misfortune.
No amount of good luck charms have been able to overcome the power of the following NBA Curses:
Winning the Coach of the Year Award
Being on the Cover of EA Sport's NBA Live
Being a Clipper
Being a Center Drafted by the Portland Trailblazers
Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter This Article, as there is no guarantee that what lurks in these pages will stay on your screen. However, if you send this to 10 of your basketball loving friends, you will become incredibly wealthy - or you'll make coach Nick feel a lot better about himself.
In 2002, Rick Carlisle had just led Detroit to a first place finish in the Central Division and a trip to the second round of the playoffs. By the end of the next season, having just beaten Larry Brown's Sixers team in the Conference Semi-Finals, they fired Carlisle and replaced him with Brown. That's got to hurt.
In 2003, Gregg Popovich won the award fresh off of winning the NBA Championship. Since then, he's had to stay coach of the Spurs and was forced to win two more NBA Championships with talented teams that played the right way. Some curse, huh?
In 2004, Hubie Brown led a resurgence in both his career and the Memphis Grizzlies, who went 50-32 for their best mark ever. But by Thanksgiving of the next year, he was forced out using "health reasons" as the excuse, while it was more of a mutiny from his players.
In 2005, Mike D'Antoni won the award by improving the Suns record by 41 games and leading to an MVP Award for Steve Nash, the first of two in a row for Nash. By 2008, having realized the Suns couldn't win without a stronger commitment to defense, the ownership forced him out.
In 2006, Avery Johnson got the Mavericks all the way to the NBA Finals. In a cruel reversal of timing, the championship was taken from them by poor officiating in the deciding game, meaning the Coach of the Year Award was inevitable. Sure enough, the Mavericks were upset in the first round two straight years, and bye bye Avery.
In 2007, Sam Mitchell put the Toronto Raptors and Chris Bosh on the map with a 47-35 record. To start his second season post award, the Raptors stumbled slightly out of the gate, and management gave him the quick axe. This firing was so problematic that it might have spawned a team curse on the Raptors, culminating in them losing Bosh to free agency this summer.
In 2008, Byron Scott won the award for coaching the New Orleans Hornets to a first place division finish and a trip to the conference semi-finals - heady stuff for the Big Easy's new team. Within two years, after a poor start to the season, the Hornets fired him. This could also have spawned another curse on the team - as Paul has never gotten over Scott's firing and is rumored to want out of New Orleans.
In 2009, Mike Brown won Coach of the Year for guiding LeBron and company to a first place finish and franchise record for wins. However, he was completely outcoached in the playoffs against Orlando, and outcoached again the next year against the Celtics. This could well spawn the biggest curse of them all - the curse of Cleveland sports: the Drive, the Fumble, and now the Runaway.
This action packed game has become the equivalent of the Sport Illustrated Cover Curse. The curse here doesn't limit itself to injuries either - so beware Dwight Howard (cover of NBA Live 2010).
1996: Shaq fractures his thumb and suffers through a variety of injuries - and gets steamrolled by the greatest team of all time, the 72-10 Bulls.
1997: Mitch Richmond is now doomed to be one of the best forgotten men in the league. Richmond got injured the next year and was traded to the lowly Wizards for Chris Webber.
1998: Tim Hardaway broke down for two straight years, only playing in 48 and 52 games respectively. Oh, and the curse took a while to really take hold, but in 2007 he announced how he hated gays.
1999: Antoine Walker, Ba DUM bum. This also took a while to take hold, but gambling debts and home invasions lay ahead.
2000: Duncan gets his first bite of the injury bug, and misses the playoffs, where the defending champion Spurs got beat in the first round by the Suns.
2001: While KG had a decent season, the Wolves themselves got hit by the curse - first with the auto accident death of Malik Sealy and then the Kevin McHale tampering case - resulting in the eventual loss of three first-round picks.
2002: Steve Francis developed an inner ear infection and a foot injury, missing 25 games. Oh, and he never met a shot he didn't like, sinking the Rockets. They were able to draft Yao based on their terrible year - more evidence of the curse!
2003: While Jason Kidd's exploits on the court held up - two Finals appearances with the Nets - his personal life unraveled following domestic abuse charges, culminating in a messy divorce in 2007.
2004: This was Vince Carter's last year in Toronto - the one where he admitted that he tanked it. 'Nough said. Well, the curse seems to have affected him in the sense that if a defensive player touches him, he'll go down like he was shot.
2005: Carmelo Anthony was involved in more off the court incidents, and only the curse can explain how strange they were: A clash with Larry Brown during the Olympics, a fight in a NY club where three guys tried to extort money from him because they taped it, appearing in an underground DVD glorifying drug dealers, and tanking the next season until Bzdelik got fired and Karl came in. He seems cured now.
2006: Dwyane Wade led the team to its first championship. And he has two of his good friends bringing their talents to South Beach. The curse of bad PR lurks over them, but that's about it.
2007: T-Mac had a good year, but lost again in the first round with the Rockets, and has never recovered from his knee injuries. He was recently spurned by the Bulls and is searching for any takers.
2008: Agent 0, Gilbert Arenas, had one of the biggest examples of the curse, hurting his knee, coming back, then dropping the gauntlet in the locker room, ready to march 10 paces with Javaris Crittenton.
2009: Tony Parker battled injuries and played in only 56 games, and has been rumored to be on the trading block.
Bill Simmons traces the curse back to their Buffalo Braves tenure, when using a Native American mascot must surely have unleashed the wrath of the original land owners of North America. There is no question that joining the Los Angeles Clippers has been anathema to most players hoping to make a positive impact. While many chalk it up to bad luck and freak accidents, I personally feel that there must be something lacking in the strength and conditioning regimen the team employs. That said, check out this laundry list of bad tendons and crooked bones:
1977 Tiny Archibald tears his Achilles tendon, out for season
1979 Walton's feet let him play 169 games in 6 seasons
1983 Terry Cummings diagnosed with heart arrhythmia
1985 Derek Smith blows out knee, never the same
1986 Norm Nixon blows out knee in a summer softball game, out for season
1987 Norm Nixon ruptures Achilles tendon, out for season
1986 Marques Johnson ruptures disk in neck, never plays again
1988 Danny Manning blows out ACL
1989 Ron Harper blows out ACL
1992 Billy Crystal achieves iconic fan status, then releases: Mr. Saturday
Night,City Slickers 2,Forget Paris,My Giant
1997 Loy Vaught season ending back surgery, never the same
2007 Elton Brand blows out Achilles, never the same
2007 Shaun Livingston dislocates entire knee, never the same
LaRue Martin - Widely regarded as the worst No. 1 pick ever, he averaged 5 ppg, 5 rpg, and 14 minutes per game for his career. Compared to some of the picks after him, like Bob McAdoo (who the Braves/Clippers got in one example of good fortune for the club), Paul Westphal, and Julius Erving, this was an epic bust and he never recovered.
Bill Walton - After winning the 1977 championship and thoroughly dominating, his feet failed him and he ultimately brought his misfortune to the Clippers. Getting to the Celtics helped remove the curse temporarily, as he won a championship on arguably the best team ever.
Mychal Thompson - While playing pick up in the Bahamas in 1979, he snaps his ankle going up for a routine layup. He misses the entire 79-80 season.
Sam Bowie- After suffering through a number of injuries at Kentucky, Portland still picked him (ahead of Michael Jordan … but hey, they already had Clyde Drexler). After his mediocre rookie season, he never played more than 38 games for the Blazers. He did average 15-8 with the lowly Nets in 91-92, but never had a significant stretch of injury free play.
Arvydas Sabonis - the curse works in reverse time as well, as his best days were long over due to Achilles injuries before he got to Portland. I'm telling you, this curse is vengeful.
Greg Oden- Already looking like a 38-year-old vet at age 19, he has suffered season-ending injuries on both knees.