Blake Griffin Dunks, No One Seems to Notice. What's Up with That?
Remember when a Blake Griffin dunk would turn the world upside down?
Last night, this happened, and it barely registered on my Twitter timeline.
To be fair, the putback wasn't anything like the dunk over Kendrick Perkins that was seen around the world five times, and last night was also the college basketball night of the year (yay, Cal!), but doesn't it feel like the tide has kind of turned a bit when it comes to Griffin?
While he was the toast of the NBA just a season ago, complete with a choir singing and a Kia car to jump over during the dunk contest, things have changed this year. It doesn't feel quite like the normal tempering of excitement that happens, either.
Griffin had two dunks early on in the game against the Dallas Mavericks last night. They were classic Griffin dunks. That beautiful blend of grace and power. The ones that make you marvel at how any one human could have that much athleticism.
Last season, they would have spawned a few hashtags, made him a trending topic on Twitter. Last night, they were mostly met with silence.
Things have changed and they've changed quickly.
Is it that Chris Paul is now paired with Griffin and we expect them to be doing more? Are we tired of talented players playing together?
We do seem to empathize better with the young stars that are stuck on a team without adequate help or coaching. We root for them to overcome, to get an opportunity to compete, to be rewarded for their efforts, for their talents to be utilized properly, but when that actually happens, it feels like we're not happy then, either.
Are we tired of the whining?
In his rookie season, Griffin definitely took a beating from his opponents as they welcomed him to the NBA and tried to protect themselves from being put on a poster. Sometimes the fouls seemed unnecessarily rough, or even just unnecessary.
Griffin took the abuse well, didn't allow it to disrupt him and went about his business. Fast forward a season, and there's a lot of complaining from him. To be fair, he is sometimes the recipient of unacceptable fouls (what's up, Jason Smith?), but no one likes a whiner, and a whiner who is 6-foot-10 is even worse.
Are we over the hype?
Did we buy into the NBA's marketing of Griffin too much, only to have hit a wall? There was the dunk contest, the Kia commercials, the Rookie of the Year push. Then the television appearances and the interviews and all of the magazine covers. Griffin was everywhere last season.
If you followed the league, you were down with Griffin. We all bought in so quickly. It was fun to root for him, easy to feel badly for him having been drafted into the disaster that is the Los Angeles Clippers organization, exhilarating to watch him dunk over his opponents, rewarding to see him hit that 18-footer to prove he wasn't "just a dunker."
Those things don't have the same appeal this season. Did we make ourselves sick of Griffin because we appreciated him too much from the jump?
I'm not sure of the answer, but I am sure of a couple of things: when Griffin's on the court, there's a constant threat of being embarrassed and annihilated by one of his acrobatic dunks. He also serves as a reminder of how bad this year's dunk contest was and why he didn't need a prop from Kia when he won the thing a year before.
When Griffin is dunking, he's a lot of fun. We can still enjoy that, right? Even if we don't like the whining or the new pairing of Griffin with Paul or the way the NBA force-fed his heroics to us.
I think we're spoiled basketball fans. I suppose that's not going to change anytime soon thanks to League Pass and the over-abundance of talent we get to watch each night. And, that's cool, I'm grateful for it.
I just miss those nights when my Twitter timeline went nuts because of the athletic amazement Griffin delivered by slamming a ball through the net. We've come a long way in one short year, haven't we?
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