On Sunday, we saw another NBA leader toppled, and another top 5 player standing in awe of an emerging force. Today, Indiana witnessed the same phenomenon. There is a creature in Los Angeles capable of physical poetry. It is called a Blake Griffin, and there is only one recorded species. In describing Blake, Pacer forward Danny Granger said, “We came in and said, ‘We can’t let him do that again,’ but we just couldn’t stop him.” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien agreed: “It was a spectacular performance by Griffin. We couldn’t guard him…. he was just too much for us to handle.” Griffin scored 47 points, a career high, and currently this season’s high for any player.
If you’ve never seen him play, you need to reassess your life. He’s Shawn Kemp without the cocaine dependency, Darryl Dawkins without the excessive fouling. Rookie of the year is hardly a debate, but this Clipper homer will go a step further and say that Blake Griffin is the best power forward in the league. He may not be as solid on the boards as Kevin Love, or as sissy as Dirk Nowitzki, but his stats are better than both of them. Apart from stats, Griffin is easily the most exciting player in the league. Every time the Clippers take the floor, they do so with the expectation that Griffin will have at least one ridiculous explosive dunk. When there is a whiff of a fast break, Griffin becomes the fastest sprinter on the court, and his finger is already pointing for the oop by half-court. In less than 50 games, he has put up some of the most breathtaking dunks we’ve seen this century. But he is not content with his above the rim excellence, he continues to work on his free-throw shooting and midrange jumper–two aspects of his game that are seen sub-par. If he brings those skill sets to a level anywhere near his dunking, he’ll be thrown into best-in-the-league debates held on several respectable blogs, like this one.
The only criticism anybody seems to have with the way that Blake gets it on is that he takes risks with his body. “He’s going to kill himself,” they say. As a fan of entertaining athletes, the only reasonable response is, “I hear the WNBA is looking for fans of more watered-down, risk-free basketball.” Let’s syllogize: if you say you don’t like the way Blake Griffin plays, then you are saying you don’t like basketball. If you don’t like basketball, then you probably haven’t seriously considered Griffin’s legendary game. If you haven’t seriously considered his game, then you should. If you do, then you will see that your statement about not liking his game was false. Therefore, if say you don’t like his game, then you are a liar. So tread lightly with that kind of talk, sinner.
My only concern with Blake Griffin is the flimsy story about his origin. Born to mortals in Oklahoma? Sure, that’s how a lot of NBA players came about, but I don’t buy it in this case. I am working through a theory of my own. I think Taylor Griffin put NBA Live 2005 in his Playstation 2, created a player setting his dunks, speed, quickness, agility and rebounding to 99, and played in either a freak thunderstorm or in a rare occurrence of aurora borealis. The details are a bit fuzzy at this point, but somehow Blake escaped from the PS2 and now walks among us. How else could he embody the exact way I play NBA games on Playstation? Uncanny.
Let’s think back to Sunday (as in Clippers def. Lakers 99-92), is there any question, after watching the yellow team try to muster up some energy late in the game, that there has been a major diversion of excitement and interest in LA this year? Maybe my status as life-long sufferer of Clipper-fandom has obscured my ability to make an objective observation, but it seems like there is nothing intriguing about the Lake-Show anymore, yet the Gordon/Griffin combo with the unpredictable Baron factor brings an electricity to the floor, no matter who their opponent happens to be. Granted, some people like watching a fancy European lurch around the court, getting blocked several times before heaving up a rattling layup; then, when that layup careens off the bottom of the rim and somehow rolls in, said European screams like he just yoked on three defenders. These people are named things like Marc, Dirk, Sasha, Manu, Andre, Sven and Slobodan. They ride Vespas, wear girl’s jeans and women’s sunglasses while complaining about the froth-to-liquid ratio in their mocha lattes. I, for one, will not support such a lifestyle–will you?