Blake Griffin Credits Jerry West with Convincing Him to Return to Clippers

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2017

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 4: Executive board member Jerry West of the Golden State Warriors shakes hands with Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers prior to the game on November 4, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin said NBA legend and team consultant Jerry West played a critical role in getting him to sign a long-term contract to stay in L.A.

On Friday, Shams Charania of The Vertical passed along comments from Griffin, who was selected by the Clippers with the first overall pick in the 2009 draft.

"Jerry had a major voice to me, and he's had an influence in coming and working on the culture here," he said. "This franchise had unfinished business, and I had unfinished business here. We had unfinished business together and I valued that. We laid it out there that no matter what was going on around us, both sides hadn't accomplished what we set out for. I couldn't abandon this now."

Los Angeles traded point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets in late June for a large package of players headlined by Patrick Beverley, a future first-round draft pick and cash. Griffin could have followed his longtime teammate out the door via free agency.

Instead, he signed a five-year, $171 million contract to remain with the Clippers after hearing from the franchise's key figures—owner Steve Ballmer, head coach Doc Rivers and teammates—as well as West, who arrived after serving as an adviser for the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.

Now the five-time All-Star selection is eager to prove he can carry the team on his back without Paul serving as a second star in the lineup.

"I embrace the challenge," Griffin told The Vertical. "With Chris gone, it changed our dynamic. For me, of course, I can look at it: I have the responsibility on my shoulder—all season. I have to do it. When Chris sat out, I was able to show it. I want to prove that I can sustain that style of play."

Meanwhile, his decision to stick with the Clippers was the first L.A. victory for West after helping build the Dubs into a nearly unstoppable force in recent years.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times noted the Hall of Fame guard said in June he would miss Golden State but added there was "nothing left for me to do" given the franchise's talent and success.

"I want to see the Clippers get to where the owner and the people who work there internally want to go," West said. "They have some really lofty goals over there, really lofty goals, and they thought I can help. I'm thrilled that I was wanted. I'm thrilled that they thought I could help and I'm hopeful that I can."

The early returns are promising. The Clippers are tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the NBA at 4-0, while Griffin is averaging 26.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists.