Blake Griffin had to be restrained from going after a heckler during a game in Minnesota earlier this season, and now we know what set him off.
According to Detroit Pistons reporter Vince Ellis, being called “boy” is what triggered Griffin.
Being called "boy" is what triggered Blake Griffin's confrontation with a Timberwolves fan earlier this season. https://t.co/lU5cXx3yuS
— Vince_Ells56 (@Vincent_Ellis56) March 15, 2019
Griffin had been responding to a heckler in Minnesota throughout the fourth quarter before raging in overtime. Griffin had to be restrained from going after the fan, who was ejected from the game.
The exchange with the fan motivated Griffin, who scored 34 points in a 129-123 overtime win. The subject seems to be coming up due to Russell Westbrook’s publicized incident with a fan earlier in the week in Utah. A second Jazz fan has since been banned by the team.
The playoff races are well underway in the NBA, and things are very competitive in both conferences. It looks likely that only a handful of games will separate fifth from eighth in certain cases, and the margins between making and missing the playoffs will be small.
Most contenders have key figures who will have a big say in where their teams land. These aren’t always the obvious stars, but a key name who’s returning from injury or picking up the slack at the right time. Here are 10 key players who will have a big say in the playoff races.
10. Buddy Hield, G, Kings
Hield has had a breakout year this season, but he hasn’t always been in the good graces of coach Dave Joerger, much to the frustration of some other players. The Kings are very much in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, and they’ll need Hield to play fearlessly — and have the trust of his coach — down the stretch. If he can play to his capabilities — like when he made 53.4 percent of his threes in January — the Kings will have a huge weapon as they chase a playoff spot.
The Detroit Pistons have been wildly inconsistent this season, and some of the comments Blake Griffin has made recently about his teammates not focusing late in games has led to speculation that he wants to be traded. However, the star big man admits that is not the case.
After the Pistons lost to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday to fall to 21-28 on the season, Griffin was asked about some reports that he has informed the Pistons he wants a trade before next week’s deadline. He admitted he is frustrated with the way the team has been playing but urged people to “consider the source” of the rumors.
#Pistons Blake Griffin: "I am happy here and of course I’m frustrated. You should be frustrated – if you’re not frustrated, what are you doing playing basketball? Like Tom (Gores), I still believe in this team and we can turn this around and rattle off a couple wins." https://t.co/XE8DIxJZx2
— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) January 30, 2019
The Pistons began the year 13-7 and had a record above .500 as of Dec. 19, but their play has fallen off significantly over the last month. Griffin recently gave an awkward postgame interview in which he criticized the team for not closing out games.
Griffin has had nothing but positive things to say about Detroit since he was traded by the Los Angeles Clippers, so there’s no reason to think his recent frustrations have to do with anything other than losing. While a trade can’t be ruled out, it seems highly unlikely.
Blake Griffin seems to have identified a problem that is costing the Detroit Pistons late in ballgames.
The Pistons went into the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans with a 79-70 lead. They were outscored 24-19 by the Pelicans in the fourth, but were able to hold on for a 98-94 win.
Following the game, Griffin cited a lack of focus at the end of games as being something the Pistons will need to improve upon.
Blake Griffin after the #Pistons escape New Orleans with a win: Nothing to be proud of, this is just masking our issue. Our lack of focus at the end of games has been awful.” Not a good time for Reggie Jackson to come and get in the way as Griffin makes his statement. pic.twitter.com/lYKrVE0Ntl
— Palace Pistons (@PalaceOfPistons) January 24, 2019
How about Reggie Jackson jumping in right as Griffin is criticizing the team’s lack of focus?
With last year’s NBA Coach of the Year Dwane Casey on board and a full year of Blake Griffin, expectations were higher for the Pistons this year than they had been heading into recent seasons. Those hopes have not yet been realized as Detroit is currently 21-26. However, due to the bottom of the Eastern Conference being so poor, the Pistons are only 1.5 games out of the conference’s eight seed for the playoff spot.
If the Pistons are going to claw their way into the postseason picture they will need to improve in several areas. Late-game focus would need to be one of those areas.
Blake Griffin has settled his lawsuit with Brynn Cameron, the mother of his two children.
Cameron filed a lawsuit against Griffin last year, alleging that he ditched her and their kids to pursue a relationship with Kendall Jenner.
The suit said Cameron and Griffin were set to be married in 2017 but they called it off a month before after Griffin asked Cameron to sign a prenuptial agreement. He then supposedly took up a public affair with Jenner.
The two resolved their custody battle of their children, but it wasn’t until recently that the palimony suit was settled, according to The Blast.
Griffin’s relationship with Jenner fizzled out and he is now in his second season with the Detroit Pistons after previously being a lifelong Los Angels Clipper. Cameron, whose brother Jordan is a former NFL Pro Bowl tight end, also has a child with Matt Leinart.
Joe Ingles and Blake Griffin had a funny exchange in which Ingles wasn’t shy about telling Griffin exactly how he felt.
During the first quarter of Monday’s game between the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons, Ingles made contact with the back of Griffin. Griffin appeared to embellish the contact. It apparently worked because Ingles was called for an offensive foul.
As the two walked up the court, Ingles was shown calling Griffin a “flopper.”
Joe Ingles calls Blake a flopper right to his face. pic.twitter.com/f8xrAq9atu
— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) January 15, 2019
Ingles and Griffin had a funny exchange on Twitter last year. On Monday, Ingles took it to the court.
Ingles was in a joking mood all night. After hitting a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter, Ingles blew kisses in the direction of some Pistons fans.
Joe Ingles blew a kiss to some Pistons fans sitting courtside after hitting the dagger. pic.twitter.com/NAYVHkRp5Y
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 15, 2019
It’s pretty clear that there are still some hard feelings from Blake Griffin toward the Los Angeles Clippers.
Griffin made his long-awaited return to Los Angeles on Saturday, and Jovan Buha of The Athletic noted that the Detroit Pistons forward clearly snubbed Clippers owner Steve Ballmer during pregame warmups.
As Blake finished his warmup, Steve Ballmer was on the sideline watching and waiting. When Ballmer saw Griffin finish, he started walking towards him. Blake saw Ballmer and sped up, running away to the Pistons locker room as Ballmer yelled “Blake! Blake!” with his hand out.
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) January 12, 2019
Fox Sports Detroit caught video of the non-interaction.
— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) January 12, 2019
Griffin has made pretty clear over the past year that there is some lingering bitterness over how his trade went down, and he showed it in their meeting in Detroit last year as well. This sets the stage for what might be an awkward and frosty affair on Saturday afternoon.