The Blake Show
Is Blake Griffin already the best power forward in basketball?
by Eric Jenike / @RBAej
Unless you’re new to SLAMonline, you probably heard the news: Blake Griffin is the greatest in-game dunker of all time, and that includes ‘Nique, Jordan and Kemp. He needed about 15 NBA games to stake his claim to that title. The man is already the author of “The Mozgov” and “The Gallinari” – quite possibly the two most spectacular plays ever seen in an NBA game.
But is rookie Blake Griffin already the best power forward in the League? He has the stats – the last rookie to average better than 20 points, 10 boards and 3 assists was just some guy named Bird in 1979. A lot of folks in basketball circles came into this season worried about Griffin. Would he be tainted by the Clipper stink and disappoint like other Clippers’ No. 1 overall selections Danny Manning and Michael Olowokandi? Would he ever get back to being the overwhelming physical force we saw at Oklahoma after suffering a broken kneecap in the final game of the 2009 preseason that forced him to miss his entire rookie year?
Blake Superior would hear none of that. When you see Griffin soaring through the air to throw down a Baron Davis lob you worry that he might actually break his nose on the rim one of these times. He gets too high. He is one of those players who is so athletic that he makes other pro athletes look like the broken down old guys you play against at your local YMCA. The voice of L.A. Clippers’ play-by-play man Ralph Lawler hollering “SLAAAAAM DUNK” after every Griffin flush is going to be immortalized for generations in highlights. Watching him play, you would never in a million years think he just missed an entire season of basketball with a knee injury. In fact, you might just assume that everyone else had a serious knee injury when you notice the difference in athletic ability between Blake and his NBA peers.
The after effects of a broken kneecap aren’t going to slow him down. Have you heard what his off-season workout regimen consists of? Blake Griffin isn’t just hitting the gym daily and launching 800 jumpers per day, although that would be impressive. Griffin can instead be found with legendary and mysterious bay area trainer Frank Matrisciano. Matrisciano claims that only three out of 10 athletes who seek him out for his services, which aren’t advertised by the way, make it through his grueling circuit. What happened during the offseason after missing his entire rookie year with a knee injury? Blake Griffin went back to Matrisciano for seconds.
Matrisciano’s clients don’t train on flat or solid ground. They work in sand and on stairs; and they wear weight vests and carry medicine balls. Some guys don’t even make it 15 minutes; Blake Griffin stays for two months. Griffin has a meticulous diet, consisting of lean protein, fruits, veggies and protein shakes. For a man standing 6-10 tall and weighing 251 pounds with all of the natural athletic ability in the world, it is downright frightening to think that he is also quite possibly the hardest working player in the League and has a proper diet at just 21 years of age. What could possibly stop this guy? Consider that he also gets angry when he loses a scrimmage in practice and demands rematches and you have the mental and physical makeup of a great player.
Ask his peers; they know what he is capable of. On January 16 Blake played his cross-town rivals, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, and walked out of the building with his 26th consecutive double-double and a 99-92 victory over Kobe and company. During the fourth quarter Griffin spun on Pau Gasol and overpowered him at the rim for an easy two points. Earlier in the game he beat Pau baseline for a thunderous one-handed throw down that is now just more fodder for Blake highlight mixes, which seem like they have to be updated by the week. Pau is the same guy who was being called the best big man in basketball during the 2010 NBA Finals. On this night, Griffin made him look like a chump.
During the game’s closing seconds Lamar Odom felt the need to defend his teammates and initiating a pushing match with the star rookie. After the game, Kobe said, “Blake just punked us.”
What did Blake do during the incident? He just played it cool. He was ejected to prevent the incident from escalating, but the League later rescinded it. Griffin always remains cool. Consider the play where he jumped so high that Timofey Mozgov was eye level with his belt buckle and threw the ball through the basket.
Most players would’ve gone nuts and pounded their chest. Yelled and screamed. Waved their arms around. Done a dance, or gave the opponent a staredown. Blake Griffin just run back down the court stone-faced like he’d done it a million times before. He probably has. This is one bad man we’re talking about.
It’s not just Kobe giving the young buck props. Grant Hill said there is no point in being physical with a guy like Griffin. Former MVP Shaquille O’Neal hasn’t even played Griffin yet, but said “Blake Griffin is the truth, all these other guys, I’m not impressed.”
Guys are catching on. Amar’e Stoudemire gave Griffin a head nod of acknowledgment and a wink after he posterized Amar’e’s Knick teammate Mozgov in what has become one of the iconic plays of the new millennium.