Blake Griffin Talks to B/R About His Podcast, NBA Bubble, Julius Jones, More

Leo Sepkowitz@@LeoSepkowitzContributorAugust 16, 2020

Detroit Pistons' Blake Griffin watches from the bench during the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 120-99. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Aaron Gash/Associated Press

The Detroit Pistons, you may have noticed, were not invited to the NBA bubble. After 66 games and just 20 wins, it was understandable. Also, they traded their longest-tenured player, the affable Andre Drummond.

But not all is sour in Detroit.

The Pistons have a first-rate coach in Dwane Casey, a budding star in Christian Wood, emerging role players in Bruce Brown and Svi Mykhailiuk and a lottery pick that currently projects at No. 4 or 5. They also have one of the league's premier players, in case you forgot: Blake Griffin, still just 31 years old.

A year ago, Griffin had a sort of second-wave career breakthrough. He relied not on jamming over dudes but instead by moving creatively in the half court and suddenly draining threes. He posted a monster season: 24.5 points, 7.5 boards, 5.4 assists. He made the All-Star team, chosen by Team Giannis, and then brought Detroit to the playoffs. On the side, he was developing a podcast too.

Considering that we're well into the era of NBA player-hosted podcasts, and considering Griffin's established resume as an entertainer, the only surprise was that it took so long. The Pursuit of Healthiness, a weekly series broadly about wellness, launched last week.

In the debut episode, Griffin interviews actor Michael B. Jordan; future episodes in Season 1 will feature Deepak Chopra, Chelsea Handler, Arianna Huffington and more. Not your typical athlete podcast, but Griffin has never been your typical athlete, especially off the floor. You may recall him crawling naked across a hotel room floor in one Broad City episode.

As the show launches, Griffin spoke with B/R about how it came together and about his other focus off the floor—the justice for Julius Jones initiative.

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How Come you chose to build your podcast around health and wellness?

Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

I've had an interest in health and wellness for a long time. My mom was a very healthy person, so she always had us doing different stuff from my friends. I've been doing fish oil, which wasn't very popular in Oklahoma City in the 1990s, for as long as I can remember.

My brother and I would drink barley green, a green juice, which also wasn't very popular in that area. Early on, I think it led to me not thinking that it was a chore to be healthy. I was a health and science major too. If I did a podcast, it might as well be in this space to talk with people who are very interesting, leading their fields in health and wellness.

          

The guests range from Deepak Chopra to Michael B. Jordan. Who's in charge of booking? And how come you opted against interviewing fellow NBA players? 

I consciously wanted to sort of steer away from looking at things through an NBA lens, and I think I offer that perspective as that pod moves along. In the first season, I wanted to stay away from too many athletes or conversations that don't apply to your average listener. I thought it'd be interesting to span the field of health and wellness, from meditation to sleep to alternative medicine to cannabis.

        

Throughout the summer, you've been heavily involved in supporting Julius Jones in your native Oklahoma.

(For those not aware, as a 19-year-old, Jones was convicted of first-degree murder in 2002, a crime he is adamant he did not commit. Griffin—alongside Russell Westbrook, Kim Kardashian West and many more—has taken action to promote recent evidence that points to Jones' innocence. Jones, now 39, has been on death row for 18 years.)

What compelled you to participate and use your platform to support him?

Julius played for my dad, who was a high school basketball coach. My brother and I would be at his games, in the gym and around those guys. When that happened (Jones' arrest and conviction), we were shocked because of the person he was, the character Julius had.

As you get older and learn more about what's going on, and you have more access to the information, you feel like he didn't quite get a fair shake at a trial, and obviously that's supposed to be a pillar of our justice system. My whole message in all of this was that he deserved a chance to tell his side of the story.

          

You can learn more about Jones' case here and sign a petition in support of him here.

          

Have you been closely following the NBA bubble games?

I'm watching Spurs-Nuggets right now.

         

What do you make of the bubble?

Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

It's been nice to have sports on, and I think the NBA has done a phenomenal job creating this plan/bubble and making sure that guys are safe. It's a great look at how sports should operate until we have a vaccine.

         

Chris Paul's Thunder look very different from the Lob City teams you guys ran. What do you make of OKC and his work there?

It's fun to watch those teams that sorta—I don't know how many people counted him in for the playoffs, or to be this good, but that team has his imprint written all over it. He's one of the best leaders in our game, and if anyone can bring a team together, it'd be him.

          

Has anybody else caught your eye?

I feel like TJ Warren has been playing unbelievable; he had the 53-point game. I think Anthony Davis looks really good. They're missing Avery Bradley and some key pieces, so it's good to see him playing well. I was really bummed Jaren Jackson Jr. got hurt—him and Ja [Morant] were killing, and that was gonna be pretty fun down the stretch to watch as they fight for the last spot.

Honestly, it's just been good to have basketball back on.

          

Do you have a Finals prediction? 

Out of the West, it's gotta be Lakers or Clippers, and in the East, the Bucks. We haven't even really seen a good head-to-head Lakers-Clippers game. I feel like the first game, no Lou Will, he's such a big piece, and Montrezl [Harrell] too. It'll be fun to see those two teams.

          

Is it strange to see the Clippers competing at this level without you? The team, obviously, looks so different now.

I feel like they didn't really have a lag in between. They're a different team, but as a member of those teams, our goal is to legitimize the Clippers and be in the playoff hunt every year. I think we take pride in knowing that we laid that foundation.