Everyone’s Talking About Blake Griffin
Dunks that blow the roof off the arena, a ridiculous double-double streak, the best rookie season since Lebron James in 2004; Blake Griffin gives the media and the public something to talk about every time he steps on the court. Despite being one of the least outspoken superstars in the league Griffin is now inspiring chatter from many of his opponents as well. The reason? Playing TOO hard. Yes, it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds.
Back-to-back games against the Lakers and Pacers have resulted in at least one player from each of those teams being upset with Griffin’s “it aint over til it’s over” mentality. The first “victim” of Griffin’s acts was Laker forward Lamar Odom. With 5.7 seconds left, the Clippers up nine and attempting a free throw Odom halfheartedly attempted to box out Griffin who in return used his frame to shove Odom under the hoop in an attempt to secure a possible rebound. Taking exception to this, Odom grabbed Griffin by the jersey, ripping it out of his shorts and yanking him out of bounds.
In the resulting scuffle, Griffin stoically stared down Odom as he voiced his displeasure, Clippers captain Baron Davis stormed in to confront Odom and Ron Artest played the unlikely role of peacekeeper, jumping in to separate the players. The officials ejected all four players. The ejections of Griffin and Artest were later rescinded by the league.
In comments following the game Odom and Laker coach Phil Jackson claimed that Griffin was out of line for “running up people’s backs” all game, and that maybe once he’s been in the league a little longer he will understand that it’s not appropriate to play that hard when the game has been decided. Griffin has been playing basketball long enough to be aware that the overwhelmingly majority of players don’t put forth that kind of effort. He just doesn’t agree with that mindset.
One player, maybe somewhat surprisingly, had Griffin’s back. Kobe Bryant, one of the most competitive players the league has ever seen, claimed afterward that he would do the exact same thing Griffin did; play hard until the buzzer. Who’s a bigger authority on how the game should be played? Lamar Odom or Kobe Bryant?
The second player in as many days to take offense to the way Griffin handles himself was Pacers forward James Posey who was assigned to try and guard the young man late in their game Monday as Griffin was going off for 47 points and 14 rebounds. The two exchanged words throughout the second half and on one occasion Griffin fouled Posey who reacted by puffing out his chest and circling his opponent before going to the line. After Griffin was finished dismantling the Pacers he made a sportsmanlike effort to shake Posey’s hand. Posey was having none of it, shrugging it off and turning a cold shoulder to the future Rookie of the Year.
“He tried to, I declined,” Posey said afterward. “He already gave us 40 something and I’m going to shake his hand and thank him? I’m good.”
It seems a few of these NBA veterans have a little growing up to do. Yes, the guy just dropped nearly half a century mark on you. Yes, the 21-year-old is a better player right now than you have ever been or ever will be. Yes, the 6’10”, 251-pound manbeast could end your season with one well-placed punch. That last fact is one that these tough-talking swingmen seem to be ignoring.
With the exceptions of Shaq and an extremely ticked off Dwight Howard there is no one in the league who would be a favorite in a fight with Griffin. If the composure ever falls and real anger ever sets in Griffin will likely do something that silences the Lamar Odoms and James Poseys of the world. That’s unlikely to happen, however. It goes back to that “maturity” thing.
Griffin lets his game speak for himself, and it’s been talking pretty loudly all season long. That’s really what it comes down to. He’s stealing the limelight from the team across the hall. He’s putting fear into anyone that realizes they have to try and guard him for the rest of their career. He’s showing the potential to be one of, if not, the greatest power forwards of all time.
So keep yapping Lamar. Keep acting like the tough guy James. Blake will just keep playing.
Whats Your Verdict?