After All The Misfortune, Curses, Blake Griffin Captivates Hollywood

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IJanuary 19, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers goes up for a dunk during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on December 20, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers defeated the Timberwolves 113-90. 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 Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Blake Griffin's arms are so massive, on the bench press he performs 22 reps on the 185-lbs bench, a muscular specimen with strength as if he's Hercules or one of the world's strongest men who can incredibly pull a 7000 lb truck. As one of the tallest men in the NBA, he stands at 6-foot-7 with a humongous shoe size and remarkable wingspan.

Now, he is becoming one of the greatest forwards/centers in the NBA built with much physique and craft to dominate the paint at will, fully capable of mounting as the symbol in Hollywood, an adored icon in a city that embraces basketball more than any other professional sport. By the time the game is over, following a star-studded performance by Griffin, he routinely soothes his overworked body with ice packs wrapped around each knee and places both feet into a bucket with ice water.

Need I remind you that the Los Angeles Clippers were cursed and poorly run for 34 consecutive seasons, knocked down by misfortune and hapless injuries every time they assembled talent and solidified an incompetent roster? It was the early '70s when the NBA honored Buffalo an expansion franchise and proudly satisfied the fans near north of the border, an age when the team was known as the Braves to signify prior history in America, an age when the team endured an abiding curse, spiteful enough that sent the Clippers on a loathsome drought.

It was almost as if the defunct team in L.A. other than the Lakers had perished, overshadowed by the mystique, tradition and celebrity of purple and gold. In any other town, the Clippers, no doubt, would've been accepted as a lone basketball franchise. But suddenly, the people residing in the entertainment capital are obligated to worship the other team in town, cheering rightfully so for the development of Clippers' star rookie Griffin, who is the attractive, precious star to adopt the limitless publicity.

So now the Clippers, in one of their lovely seasons, are attractive and grabbing headlines on the front page of local newspapers. All of the sudden, as none of this was never anticipated, the Clippers are filling in seats at Staples Center with Griffin as the bait. And for all the years of disheartened woes, the Clippers phenom is a ticket-seller, even if the fans predominately wear purple and gold and appreciate the Lakers. This season, therefore, signifies belief and aspiration, an onset of the Clippers recent progress in what has ultimately shifted into a fascinating turnaround.

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As it seems, with all the latest streak of wins for an organization that has never withstood so much love, ghost and evil spirits are no longer a burden on a franchise with hopelessness in the past. One of the differences with the Clippers, finally garnering typical fans and not bandwagoners, I hope, is Griffin's rapid growth. If they continue to dazzle a cult of passionate populace in Los Angeles, after inheriting a talented brand of players in potentially a promising recovery since its unbelievable postseason achievement in 2005, it's simple to assume that the limelight solely belongs to the Clippers.

Nobody here in Los Angeles, a place used to the customary rituals of the gorgeous event in the spring that ignites a glorious festivity at Staples Center, is talking about the second-best team? That event in the spring would be the playoffs, obviously, and as long as the Clippers play consistently and compile wins, they'll be eligible to contend in the postseason and can encounter the dream matchup against its cross-town rivals the Lakers in an appealing battle.

This after the Clippers endured a sequence of downcast seasons, failed lottery draft picks that were ill-advised selections, the dreadful memories of awful trades, and lastly, the cheesy offers given to free-agents who eventually opted to leave for the riches or the betterment of advancing to new heights with a playoff contender. But the Clippers, especially after putting together a plethora of victories lately with their pedigree, are much-improved with the contributions of prolific guards that create scoring opportunities in the paint for Griffin. As a menace underneath the basket, he manipulates the inside with his size advantage and vertical leaps near the rim, delivering off the drive and on the post.

At this point, no matter how much he's overshadowed, he's not only a rookie sensation, but a sensational star that the NBA truly adores. Normally, if the NBA tries selling its sport to an alarming audience, it comes from the influx of star players. After all, it's an association built on superstars, which seems to grab the attention of fans, captivated by the celebrity of breathless stars, such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. It's an industry that redefines itself as talent transcends to elevate television ratings and ticket sales, and culturally, the NBA survives by the superstars it features, a strategy worthy for marketing its product each season.

And this is why Griffin is an attraction in the NBA, a gifted star born to install life in an uneventful sport at times and produce excitement. And he has done that, ever since ascending as a godlike player to entice the media after nearly each game, particularly following his magnificent 47-point spectacle for an NBA season-high over the Indiana Pacers. So now, it's logical to conceive that he is the Rookie of the Year hopeful among all candidates, specifically the hottest character in the league.

At the age of 21, Griffin is a unique breed and the tallest player in the middle. He's a ubiquitous forward on the floor and can levitate and literally pulverize defenders in the interior. At such a young age, he's not fully matured or a charismatic leader, and even with the lack of experience, he still plays like an All Star. There's no doubt in my mind, quickly developing into a newborn legend, that he should be voted in to play for the All Star Game, a fun event for the fans as the players are usually determined by popularity and how the general public votes.

By reputation, in the meantime, the Clippers are a disoriented franchise and lost a number of players in the past, good players at that. See, there are times, such as this season when he and Baron Davis weren't blending in as player and boss and exchanged words in verbal altercations, for which Sterling has a stubborn mind and refuses to satisfy the players he employs with richer deals. This season, already, if we can recall, Davis was unhappy and demanded a trade elsewhere.

But of late, he seems as if he's content with the Clippers and has been sizzling in scoring. The constant gossip, despite his unhappiness with the team earlier in the season, is true if you are thinking of his recent contributions scoring wise. Yet he joined the Clippers a few summers ago to unite with Elton Brand, who reneged on staying true to his word when he said he'd be willing to return but instead fled Los Angeles to sign an enormous deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, he is finally playing at the highest in his lifetime. 

This is because Griffin is getting touches and inevitably taking control with his size and sturdiness. This is because he has a dynamic force to depend on inside the post, a dominant forward at last replacing another potent forward. With the luck of being alongside Griffin, he's averaging 14.6 points per game and plays at the most 30 minutes a night, but has shot 46.5 percent from the floor. Meanwhile, the third-year guard Eric Gordon is a town savior for Clippers' lovers, and fans have fallen wildly in love with the smart-minded, streaky scorer. What makes him newsworthy is that he can drive in traffic, not afraid to penetrate and throw in a reverse layup over the taller defender. 

Griffin, no doubt, is a far superior player and steals the excitement away from his teammates, but Gordon plays efficiently with his own style and attempts his pull-up jump shots or explodes to the rim and somehow finishes on the play he creates himself. That, after all, was very telling that he improved as a proficient basketball star, born and raised in a town that adores its hoops. Nearly every kid in his home state is introduced to the sport and begins to take part in basketball at such a young.

That was what Gordon decided in his childhood, and now, it has benefited not only himself but his family as well. All of this gives Griffin a valuable supporting cast that allows him to minimize the exhaustion or even lesson the risk of injuries. Without him, the Clippers nucleus declines and they can return to the old days when Los Angeles suffered from disappointment and mortification. When he occupies the fans, he normally leaps into the air and throws down a monstrous dunk. He averages a double-double regularly from his rebounds and points scored. 

While the Clippers future seems brighter, eternally still Los Angeles will always be a Laker town, no matter how much the Clippers excel, no matter if Griffin takes over the spotlight and no matter if they advance to the playoffs. For the Lakers, a franchise that eclipses the Clippers with plenty of championship banners hanging from the rafters, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are the symbolic features of Los Angeles. For now, if not forever, the Lakers are the social activity in a diverse town, a common ritual that arouses the population here in L.A., leaning strictly on purple and gold as a way to extend a tradition and exhilarate the fond culture. 

That's not to say the Clippers won't be recognized, though. If Griffin is the future plan and Los Angeles intends to reload around him, the team will always draw attention as folks really enjoy his display regularly. It should come as no surprise that there are actually a few Clippers' fans. One of the noticeable maniacs is Clipper Darrell, a crazed fan sporting red and blue apparel. Quite regularly, Billy Crystal attends Clippers' home games at Staples Center on the rotated floor, of course.


It seems he's a well-known fan of the other team in Los Angeles which is not the preferred team. The Clippers were once disregarded by the entire city, until the 2005 season when the Lakers were dispatched from the playoffs in the first round by the Phoenix Suns. That is when it was called Clipper Nation. Is Clipper Nation back? It's a bit too early to tell, but at this rate, the fans can awaken and rename it Clipper Nation, even if Lakerland sounds fitting. So, as if all the misfortune and curses have disappeared into the darkness, from a span that included 1994 to 2004 when the Clippers had 10 picks in the first 10 selections of the NBA Draft, Griffin is the savior in a town where Southern California Got Talent and beholds the newest talented star. 

There's no telling what the future holds, but as of now, Griffin is the future.