I saw Blake Griffin play in the Oklahoma 2A State Championship Game when he was a senior in high school. His team won. They beat Pawnee. It was Griffin’s fourth state title in a row. After the game he was towering up over everybody, people snapping pictures, everybody holding their 4’s up like the third quarter had just ended.
The men amongst boys refrain is beyond sleepy at this point and even acknowledging that makes me a hack. Griffin in high school was like a T-Rex amongst dandelions. You know how that basketballvines Instagram account sometimes puts up videos of people playing 2K on some cheat mode that’s made LeBron or whoever twenty times taller and bigger than everyone else? That’s what it was like. He was a Goliath playing against David’s children.
Griffin’s sophomore year at Oklahoma a buddy and I drove to Memphis with some guys to watch them play Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen. That was the Johnny Flynn Six In The City team. Blake wasted them. Dunked one late and hit his head on the rubber covering the bottom of the backboard. Boeheim was apoplectic. I don’t know that, I’m just guessing. I say it because he always is.
The Griffin hate makes sense to me. He does preen and during the season he’s on television a lot. Those Grizzlies series and battles with Z-Bo made people see him in a dim light. That was Z-Bo at his most righteous, most supreme. You don’t tangle with him over and over again, catch the brunt of the physicality in the altercations, and not come out with some scrapes to your reputation with the viewing public. Griffin’s done himself no favors either. Breaking your hand against the face of a trainer doesn’t look good. Doesn’t even look okay. And maybe those movies are right and people hate people with powers. I don’t know.
I throw no stones in the direction of those Anti-Blake. It just seems like people are missing out on an all around game that would give them joy if they’d just let it in. There’s a pretty reasonable version of this world that has him as a Top 5 player in the league if he doesn’t get hurt like he did last year. Maybe this year universes converge?
The thing for me is, Griffin is one of the few guys in the league who’s actually shown himself to have a fun personality. Those Kia commercials are kind of objectively funny, and they’re going for something different than the stale Peytonish humor athletes are usually reaching for in commercials nowadays. He did a live reading of Space Jam at UCB. Did stand up at Just For Laughs in Montreal. These spots with him and Chris Paul—nut puncher—are amazing. Paul’s got on a weird henley in that one, though. Too many buttons. There’s like eighty buttons on the top half of that shirt. A shirt should have, at most, like, six buttons. Maybe seven. Eight if you’ve got to order button-ups in tall sizes.