Sugene Lee

Blake Griffin asked to grow up too fast

In NBA: LA Clippers on May 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Blake Griffin has now played a full season of 82 games, a shortened season of 66 games, and 8 playoff games. That’s only a total of 156 games in his career. That’s not a whole lot, right?

Yet, people around the league, whether they be opposing players, coaches, columnists, analysts, or fans, are asking Blake to do things it took other players at least 5 years to do (myself included). Blake didn’t come into the league with a full set of skills. He came in with an explosiveness that couldn’t match anyone else’s, ridiculous jumping and dunking ability, and most importantly, a hard work ethic. His work ethic is what essentially got Blake to average 20+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 3+ assists in his career. To make up for his lack of skills, he keeps his motor on at 100% any time his feet are on the court. He has yet to develop a solid post move, is slowly developing a mid-range jumper, and still has a cringe-worthy free throw shot. But how can you criticize a player who’s putting up these kinds of numbers purely on talent?

In the span of being in the league for two years, he has gone from a being on a lovable team who had zero expectations, to a despised team trying to contend for a championship. Of course, this had to be expected with Clippers GM, Neil Olshey, acquiring Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups before the season started. But if you think about it, three of the five starters have never been to the playoffs until this year; one of them being, Blake Griffin. The injuries have plagued the Clippers, which they don’t use as an excuse, but I will. In only his second year, people have gone from loving his highlight worthy dunks, to dismissing and hating them. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because he does his “Blake Face” instead of pounding on his chest like a gorilla. Maybe it’s because of the way he stares at refs for a no-call. Or maybe it’s even because he gets hit in the face and “flops” so that the refs can see it. Okay, he has flopped before, but who hasn’t? He doesn’t do it excessively and I haven’t seen him do it for a while now. But let’s be real. The kid gets beat up during games and gets hated for it. The media has hyped up his “flopping” so much that it’s just a part of him now. It’s in his name. But when’s the last time selling a call after getting hit in the face was a flop? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought flopping was flailing your arms and body with little or no contact (i.e. Manu Ginobili).

As a fan, it’s even frustrating for me to watch him get back on defense because he’s always the last one to get across the court. It’s frustrating to see his averages drop tremendously in the playoffs. It’s frustrating when he can’t box out a Boris Diaw or Tim Duncan. Against Memphis, he might’ve gotten a pass for not being able to out rebound Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, but they should be out rebounding the Spurs with ease.

So even as a fan who will defend Blake Griffin in whatever situation he’s in, I do get annoyed with the way he plays, even when he’s injured. And maybe it’s because nobody knows the extent of his sprained knee, but I do still have high expectations. And I think I just proved my point by being a hypocrite. We all expect so much out of Blake that we criticize everything he does wrong. We want faster results, but it’s not going to happen because he can only get so much better, so fast. Nobody was expecting the Clippers to get to the finals, especially after Chauncey Billups went down. But deep down, I think we, Clipper fans, still wanted them to somehow, impossibly, get there. At least, that’s how I felt.

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