Blake Griffin: Why the Clippers Headliner Is an NBA Celebrity, Not Superstar

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IApril 18, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 16:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on April 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Clippers won 92-77.  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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The NBA is filled with personalities that spontaneously combust when they arrange on the hardwood. Just the other day rarely mentioned personality Delonte West took it upon himself to give Utah’s Gordon Hayward a "willie" out of frustration.

Not a wet one—just a willie. Not a flagrant foul. Not more defensive pressure. West gave Hayward a good ol’, elementary Willy. West isn’t a superstar or a star at all, he’s just a personality so the line that separates him from a higher echelon of players isn’t so blurry.

However, the status difference between players like Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant seem to be in a bit more disarray. Fans often confuse Griffin with being an NBA superstar when his talent only merits a highlight, and the way he plays the game makes him more of a celebrity than a monster in the league.

There are plenty of players that we place in the wrong category therefore they must be properly defined.

NBA celebrity: A player that gets more attention for glamour than fundamentals.

NBA superstar: A player that exceeds the potential of his counterparts and maintains a position in the top fraction of the league domination. He plays multiple positions and has multiple facets of his game coupled with stellar media endorsements and appearances.

Clippers fans may be rather swift in degrading this line of reasoning, but it seems as if Blake falls under the category of NBA celebrity more than superstar. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you actually visit how he plays the game, it’s more glamorous than fundamental. Other players in the league have very superior dunks and they hit the highlight reel more times than not. Still, those players are equipped with more than dunks to dominate their competition.

Men like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Derrick Rose all have separate options of their game that place them in the top-tier portion of the league. Every superstar does.

LeBron James: excellent defense, strong post moves, solid mid-range jumper, nice off-balance shooting form, good passing ability, awesome offensive facilitator, can be clutch

Kobe Bryant: great perimeter game, good defense, athletic in the low post, clutch under pressure

Derrick Rose: athletic, agile, streaky perimeter shooting, efficient floater, great passer and offensive facilitator

Dwyane Wade: can score from all angles, solid defense on the perimeter, elite post moves, great finisher around the rim, good in the clutch

Kevin Durant: great scorer, good perimeter game, improving post moves, long wingspan that plays into defense, clutch

Chris Paul: traditional guard, exceptional passing, clean jumper, mildly athletic, agile, leadership, clutch

Carmelo Anthony: pure scorer, excellent leadership, improving defense, great court vision, unguardable jumper

Blake Griffin, however, isn’t multidimensional like these men. Griffin’s abilities are solely dedicated to his dunks and his athleticism. He has yet to develop any post moves.

The box scores could lead someone away from that logic and force the false realization that Griffin has all of the tools necessary to make the leap to the next level. False. Griffin is hesitant around the rim when he is not Mozgov-ing another player.

It’s still very entertaining, but I can’t imagine that his sole attribute is going to lead the Clippers anywhere but toward false hopes in the playoffs. Sure, securing a berth for the Clippers is something to celebrate, but it was done primarily on Chris Paul’s accord.

He stepped directly onto the LAC squad and adopted a leadership role that has turned permanent. Griffin is not mentally or physically capable of retrieving the role from Paul because he has not improved. He is a one-trick pony and one-trick ponies don’t lead championship squads.

Blake Griffin is a lot of things, but superstar he is not. Being a celebrity isn’t half bad—you get the attention and the accolades, just not in the most elite form the league has to offer. Griffin deserves to be recognized for what he can do. However, he cannot be recognized for something that he has yet to earn.