Blake Griffin going from the LA Clippers to the Detroit Pistons in 2018 was one of the most shocking trades in recent NBA history. It turns out that Griffin was probably just as shocked as everyone else was at the time.
The six-time All-Star, who is now with the Brooklyn Nets, opened up about the Clippers trading him away in an interview this week on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger.” Griffin revealed the one thing that he did not like about how the team handled the whole situation.
“I understand, for sure, through a business point of view,” said Griffin. “I completely understand. A team wants to go a certain way. They had a plan. They wanted to win a championship very quickly, and they didn’t think that was going to happen with me there. I totally get that.
“The only thing we kinda wish they had gone about a different way, just the respect of letting your agent know so that hopefully both parties can work out a deal that they both want, that both works for them,” Griffin went on. “[I found out] when a friend had told me.”
The former No. 1 overall pick then told the story of how he called his agent after hearing the rumors, only for the Clippers front office not to pick up the phone when Griffin’s agent tried to get to the bottom of it. Griffin said that he then drove to the team facility to have a face-to-face talk with Clippers GM (Michael Winger, whom Griffin did not mention by name). It proved to be an awkward discussion with Winger beating around the bush and simply telling Griffin, “You’ll be the first call” if a trade ultimately materialized. On his drive home, Griffin then saw a tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that the trade with the Pistons was being finalized.
Griffin is arguably the single greatest player in Clippers franchise history. He brought respect, relevance, and excitement to a historically awful team from the moment that they drafted him in 2009. But even if the Clippers’ current Kawhi Leonard-Paul George era would not have even been possible without trading Griffin, the abruptness was still a big shock, especially just months after the team had made a big show about having Griffin as a Clipper for life.
The 32-year-old still seemed to hold a grudge against the Clippers in recent years. But Griffin did say later in the interview that “it’s not like this thing where I’m just like, ‘I’m never gonna speak to these people again.'” Perhaps time will continue to thaw out whatever bad blood still remains here.
Photo: Dec 18, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) warms up before the game against the Toronto Raptors at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
During the first part of the 2020-21 NBA season, it was popular to take cracks at Blake Griffin. More specifically, it was pretty much open season on Griffin’s lack of in-game dunking.
Griffin, once revered as one of the best athletes in the league and one of its most accomplished dunkers, went a year and a half between in-game dunks. Between Dec. 2019 and March 2021, Griffin didn’t throw one down, and plenty of people were eager to point that out.
Griffin admitted that the narrative bothered him, in part because he didn’t have the chance to dunk while he wasn’t even playing.
“It bothered me a little bit. Because the stat was, ‘He hasn’t dunked in 400-something days.’ Sure,” Griffin said on JJ Redick’s “The Old Man & the Three” podcast. “I had surgery in January. I played my last game for the Pistons before the pandemic hit December 28, 2019. And then we didn’t go to the bubble. So I didn’t play again until December 24, 2020. Everybody’s like, ‘He hasn’t dunked in over a year.’ I’m like, ‘I haven’t played in over a year.’ Yeah, I played those 19 games with the Pistons and didn’t dunk.
“But that just pissed me off because you guys know the stat, you’re just choosing to be like, ‘Let’s do days instead of games.’ Because games is still like, ‘Oh, he hasn’t dunked in 19 games.’ ‘Or… Hear me out… We can just do just straight days!'”
The internet on Tuesday filled with memories and favorite clips of Norm Macdonald, the beloved comedian who died at the age of 61 following a battle with cancer.
Six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin was among those to show respect to Macdonald. He shared a video clip of a question Macdonald once asked him at a press conference. Griffin, who was with the LA Clippers at the time, called it his “favorite press conference moment ever.”
In case you can’t watch or hear the clip, Macdonald cracked a great joke with Griffin.
He noted how nobody had ever repeated as “Rookie of the Year,” leading Macdonald to call the honor a “curse.” Griffin recognized the humor immediately and joked that he would “try as hard as he can next year.”
Griffin did win NBA Rookie of the Year in the 2010-2011 season. Sadly, he failed to repeat the following year and did not break the curse.
During the episode, Griffin said that he thought it was a lack of mental toughness, rather than bad chemistry, that led to the team’s downfall.
“I am in the camp where [I think] it wasn’t quite as bad as people tried to make it out to be,” said Griffin of the Clippers’ chemistry. “I really don’t think it was. Maybe towards the end, maybe like when some other things happened. But that’s not the reason we didn’t win a championship.
“I think it was when we were at Oklahoma City for Game 5 [in the 2014 playoffs] and we were up and we just tricked off that lead,” Griffin added. “Our mental toughness needed to be better after that. Like to me, it wasn’t pettiness like I keep saying. But it was just like, we were so deflated by that game that we couldn’t pick ourselves back up to come home and win and then force a Game 7.”
Griffin and Redick also agreed that 2014 and 2015 were their best shots to win a title, before the total ascendance of the Golden State Warriors and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. In both years, the Clippers collapsed bewilderingly in Round 2 of the playoffs. In 2014, they blew a crucial Game 5 on the road to the Thunder that would have put them up 3-2 in the series, as Griffin hinted at. Then in 2015, they went up 3-1 on the Houston Rockets, only to squander that lead and lose the series in seven games.
Blake Griffin had a big game for the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday, and he got a little disrespectful too.
Griffin had 18 points and 14 rebounds in Brooklyn’s 115-107 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Late in the game, he smacked Thanasis Antetokounmpo with a hard foul. Antetokounmpo was sent to the floor, and then Griffin disrespected him with a stepover.
Blake Griffin is starting to play above the rim again in stark contrast to the latter part of his tenure with the Detroit Pistons. Now his manager is explaining what has been the difference.
Taylor Griffin, the older brother and manager of the six-time All-Star, said this week that the quick turnaround with the start of the 2020-21 NBA season hindered Blake as he worked his way back from knee surgery.
“It was definitely a hurried-up schedule,” said Taylor, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “And I think we saw that a lot of guys just needed a little bit more time to get all the way back to game shape.
“He had already sat out so much of the previous year, there was no chance he’d sit out [the start of this season],” added Taylor of Blake. “His knee was 100 percent healthy, but there’s a difference in your body being healthy and being ready to play NBA level minutes every night.”
Blake went over a year without dunking to close out his time in Detroit. But as soon as he received a buyout and signed with Brooklyn, he immediately dunked in his first game as a Net. Blake has also turned back the clock with some big jams during the Nets’ first-round playoff series against Boston.
That will obviously come as no solace though to the Pistons, who recently threw shade at their former star for the supposed finesse job. But it turns out it may have just been the natural progression of Blake’s return from injury all along.
With so many flavors out there, Blake Griffin finds it funny that people are being salty.
The new Nets big man pushed back this week at the negative reaction to him and LaMarcus Aldridge both signing with Brooklyn after receiving contract buyouts from their previous teams.
“It’s kind of funny to me, because for the last couple years all I’ve heard is how bad I am,” Griffin said, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “You sign with this team and everybody’s like, “That’s not fair!” People say whatever they want. I don’t put a whole lot of value in other people’s opinions.
“I trust the people I trust. If I don’t go to you for advice, then I’m probably not going to take your criticism,” he added. “So I have that circle of people. I have that group of people that I trust, real basketball people. That’s who I listen to. I just think it’s funny, I guess you could say that it’s amusing. I can’t speak for LaMarcus, I don’t know what people have been saying about him. That’s how I felt when I came here. I was hearing how bad I was, and now people care for some reason.”
The Nets’ latest signings to complement their superstar-studded core of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden generated major backlash. Cries of “the rich get richer” abounded, and many pointed to the moves as a prime example of the inequities that small-market teams face at the hands of juggernauts based in New York and Los Angeles.
It is true that Griffin and Aldridge are both having career-worst seasons or close to it. Both had also largely been written off before they signed with the Nets. But even if they are no longer the All-Stars that they once were, they will still be very valuable role players that Brooklyn essentially got for free. That is where the root of the criticism lies, not in the belief that Griffin and Aldridge will somehow return to being 20-and-10 players for the Nets.
When Blake Griffin joined the Brooklyn Nets, he had not thrown down a slam dunk in an NBA game since December 2019. That drought is finally over.
Griffin, once known for his emphatic dunks, finally got one in game action Sunday to open the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards. Making his Nets debut, Griffin drove the lane and threw one down, and both he and his new teammates had great reactions.
Griffin got his money’s worth there, and it’s hard to blame him. The dunk drought had become a consistent talking point lately, most of it in the form of jokes at his expense. It was probably something he wanted to put to rest as quickly as he could.
The dunk represented the only two points Griffin scored in 15 minutes of action Sunday. He added two rebounds and a block off the bench.
Griffin is likely to come off the bench, and it is probably it will be that way when the team is fully healthy. He was averaging only 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game with Detroit, as the 32-year-old simply isn’t as athletic as he used to be.
When a commenter responded that he was hoping for Griffin to be able to recover some of his athleticism in Brooklyn, Lawler savagely responded that he was similarly hoping to be able to grow a full head of hair.
Lawler retired in 2019 after a 41-year tenure as the voice of the Clippers. Thus, he assuredly has a lot of love for Griffin, who helped transform the team from a punchline into one of the most exciting and feared teams in the entire NBA. That said, it does not take a rocket scientist to tell you that Griffin, who has not had a single dunk all season, is now a shell of himself thanks to countless lower body injuries over the years.
But while Lawler’s joke about Griffin came from a friendly place, the same might not be true about Griffin’s relationship with others from the Clippers.