Blake Griffin: Los Angeles Clippers PF's Athletic Gifts Create Ultimate Catch-22

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIApril 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers leans in for a dunk during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on February 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Clippers won 103-95.    NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Are you tired of seeing Blake Griffin snatch the souls of other NBA bigs who dare to contest him at the rim?

I'm not, but some are beginning to criticize Shang Tsung (my MK-referenced nickname for the NBA's most devastating dunker) for his bombastic style.

Oklahoma City Thunder announcer Grant Long really dug into Blake last year with these comments from Mel Brach's article on

After Blake hammered home an alley-oop pass from Baron Davis in the fourth quarter, Long said, “I’m almost prone to calling that goaltending. Davis nearly put that in the basket.”

Davis said, “You’re down 20, though. … That’s wonderful. That’s flashy and may make some highlight rolls, but they’re down 20.”

Celebrations from teams on the wrong end of a blowout will always cause opponents to point to the scoreboard. But this isn't the only attack Blake has been hit with.

Critics take shots at how often he dunks, as if to say there is nothing more to his game. After Griffin executed the basketball equivalent of a fatality on Pau Gasol, Slam magazine's Farmer Jones wrote this:

I admit I don’t really like Blake Griffin. I’m not sure I can explain why, but I was feeling this way even before his sense of humor started echoing his game: Too often one-dimensional, predictable and destined to lose its effectiveness before long.

I’ve joked on the Twitters about how you have to pick sides between Blake and Kevin Love, which is true even though it’s not (it is, though, totally). I don’t have a problem with guys who jump high and dunk on guys. But I do have a problem with Blake.

You don't know why you don't like him, Farmer?

I'll tell you why—because you're a hater.

It's OK, many fans are turned off by bravado, especially from guys who do things they could only dream of athletically. It's like, OK, I know you're a more amazing athlete than everyone else, don't stare me down to rub it in my face.

I've never been bothered by that approach, as long as the starer could back it up. Blake's 21 points and 11 rebounds per game through his short career says he can do just that.

If you don't want to get dunked on, then stop him—and I don't mean how Jason Smith attempted to.

Griffin's descent toward villain status in the eyes and hearts of some could be explained the way Chris Paul did. The Clippers' star PG responded this way to Jenni Carlson of when he was asked about Griffin being disliked:  

“Shoot, everybody loves him,” Paul said, getting fired up as he talked. “Shoot, don't nobody love him more than my son.

“I don't know nobody that don't like Blake.”

He paused.

“Except for the guys he dunks on.”

That could be true. He already made one guy cancel his Twitter account. Still—I think Blake's athletic gifts place him in a no-win situation with some critics and many fans.

Many of them are fickle, and they take what Griffin is able to do for granted. His amazing athleticism and physical gifts become very ho-hum to people, because he performs them with such regularity.

It's almost like a Shaquille O'Neal effect. How many times did you hear a person say this about O'Neal: "All he does is dunk. If I were that big, I'd be dunking too."?

Obviously that is a person with a basketball IQ the size of a mustard seed, but a voice nonetheless.

The same athleticism that has landed Griffin Kia endorsement deals and immense YouTube fame has led to his growing criticism.

That said—the worst thing he could do is change his approach to satisfy his critics. While Blake should continue to develop his game—after all, he is only in his second season—he must realize he'll never win over some of his critics.

There is a great saying, and it goes like this: 

Never explain yourself. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it.

Belgicia Howell

Blake doesn't need to defend, change or explain the dynamic and in-your-face style that has carried him to this level. Those who love and appreciate his game already get it. Chris Paul already showed support for his teammate, and many fans echo his sentiments.

My advice: Keep dunking and snatching souls, Shang-Tsung.

My DVR ain't full yet, Me-Oh-My!

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