Griffin Is A Star, But . . .
There are rookies with talent, and then there are the rare few. The ones with star power that immediately blows you away.
Blake Griffin belongs with that latter group.
You could see it right away in his opening game in the NBA Wednesday night. The moves, the jumping ability, the explosiveness. The way you can’t take your eyes off him on the court. He is the Next Big Thing in the league.
Unfortunately, he is also a Clipper.
If you’ve followed the worst franchise in pro sports, you know what that means. He’ll have to suffer through the hard times. With the Clips, there are always hard times. He’ll have to be careful about The Curse, the one that struck him down a year ago and delayed his debut by 12 months. And he will have to realize that no matter what he does, he’ll always be overshadowed by the glitzy, championship team that shares the building with him.
But let’s make it official now. If nothing else, Griffin, at 6-10 and 250 pounds, brings the Clippers something they’ve never really had.
He brings them hope.
After one game, he proved he’s more than just the new face of the franchise. He is already the best player on the team.
All you had to do was watch the first half. It was like a quick highlight reel of all the exciting things to come. There was an alley-oop one-handed dunk, followed by a no-look pass and a smooth outside jumper. There were seven straight points scored in one dazzling flurry of soaring follow ups and surprisingly agile paths to the hoop.
He finished the night with 20 points and 14 rebounds, a double-double that barely tapped his potential.
But, of course, the Clippers lost. A more balanced, veteran Portland team made some adjustments in the second half, concentrating more on stopping the flashy rookie, and Griffin’s teammates didn’t have enough firepower to respond and Brandon Roy and the Blazers won going away.
Griffin better get used to it. The losses will pile up until Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman learn to work with the kid, and they might continue if — and it’s always a big if — Baron Davis doesn’t find his old Golden State groove.
But if nothing else, there is a reason to watch the Clippers now. Even when they’re overmatched. Even when they’re playing teams they have no chance against. Even when some of them act as if they don’t care.
Griffin has that much ability, that much of a presence, that much poise. The kid just has it all going on.
How many rookies could take the microphone before their first game and personally thank the fans at Staples Center for coming out to the game?
Kobe never did that. Neither did LeBron.
I’m not saying he is at their level yet. He is not.
But with a sculpted power forward’s body and a shooting guard’s mobility, he is definitely something special. He is a 100 per cent, certified gate attraction.
And as gifted as he is, you should still worry about him.
Because in the end, as we all know, he also happens to be a Clipper.
— STEVE BISHEFF