I’m sometimes afflicted with the unsavory penchant for carrying on crusades against players. I’m pro-player 95 percent of the time, but that remaining 5 percent can get ugly. It’s never “hate” for the player as a person, but a hating on the player as a player and, usually, a reaction to, what I deem, unwarranted/undeserved accolades. That is the true definition of the new cultural version of “hate.” I can go Mad Rapper on certain players.
In recent years, I’ve spent way too much time and effort crusading against Tony Parker (point guard impostor), Dwight Howard (a clowning beast with a static IQ), John Wall (NOT the next Derrick Rose), Deron Williams (NOT Chris Paul’s equal…or Rondo’s, for that matter) and Kevin Love (a backseat dude). For the past year and a half, I see red when Blake Griffin is on the screen and I’m not talking about the man’s Clippers jersey.
However, here, today, I’m retiring this unproductive hate…but not without going in on one last rant.
We’ll start, here. Check this Kia commercial. It pretty much sums up why I think Griffin is kinda corn on the court.
Word, fam? Cracking commercial jokes about an aspect of your game that is piss-poor and keeps you in a box? Forget, for a moment, that the gray Kia is a symbol of the most overhyped and underwhelming dunk contest performance of all time (Blake’s missed dunks were awe inspiring, his actual completed joints were wick-wick-wack), but it’s hard to abide by a young player making such cavalier fun about a crippling flaw. Imagine if 2008-2011 LeBron James made a 7-11 commercial mocking his late game and playoff failures, where he's a perfect gentleman for an evening, taking a fly girl on the best date ever, then, as he drops her off at the crib he says, “You know, I really dig a hoe that let’s a pimp hit it on the first night” and then the girl smacks him in the face, slams the car door shut and a slogan flashes - "We Never Close."
But, of course, the public ate Blake’s free throw commercial up. “Oh, Blake. You’re such a huckster.”
While in college, Sports Illustrated ran a cover story on Blake that was pretty illuminating. It delved into his temper, how growing up the younger brother of another D-1 athlete and getting overshadowed by more popular players in his high school days (K-Love, Derrick Rose, etc) gave him a chip on his shoulder. But it also spent a lot of time documenting how much of a huckster he is. That is no doubt one of Blake’s endearing qualities. But save comedic acting for Jason Sudekis when it comes to something (like your free throw shooting) that makes it harder on your teammates and might keep your squad from a legitimate shot at the Finals.
What’s next? Is he going to make a commercial lampooning how he has no post moves, is clueless when he’s double-teamed and refuses (REFUSES) to actually roll on a pick-n-roll. Every time CP comes off a Blake pick and looks for the young monster to roll to the cup for a high-percentage shot, he turns and sees Blake planted 20 feet from the basket. And for what? To sling a brick? To his credit, Blake spent the offseason working with shooting coach Bob Thate. But, until he does an Amar’e Stoudemire and actually works that mid-range into shape, this refusal to roll is puzzling and annoying. You’re not a stretch-4, homie.
Blake is completely botching his time with the best point guard of the last 20 years. You know it has to grind CP’s gears. When news broke that CP was traded to the Clippers, young Blake and DeAndre Jordan’s “Lob City” giddiness was cute, at first…but pro basketball isn’t a video game. I’m sure CP wouldn’t mind some “Drop It Into The Post And Watch Blake Give Cats Work” City, at all.
Somehow, though, Griffin has snuck into top ten discussions. It’s outrageous. When the dude first came into the league and bumrushed the scene, putting on the most ferocious and riveting in game and, especially, in-traffic dunking display since Vince Carter’s heyday (and maybe of all time), it was all love. Ron Artest even once told The New York Times, "I'm not going to lie, I hope he dunks on me…puts his shoulders on my face and, like, 'Aaaaah!'" Think about that. Getting dunked on by the cat was like a privilege – put you square in the middle of the sports zeitgeist. But then folks started getting it twisted and mistaking Blake’s athleticism and ferocity for an actually nuanced game. Now he’s starting All Star games and getting selected for All-NBA teams. Word, America? Blake Griffin can’t consistently win you a game in the fourth quarter. So, being the hater that I am, the incessant Blake-accolades get under my skin. Blake is no Zach Randolph.
And then there’s the video below – a.k.a The Best Moment Of The Season, so far.
Blake spends most of the game doing one of two things: either he’s posturing/glowering/flexing and stalking the court like Deebo or he’s flopping around the court like he’s part drama queen, part damsel. It’s infuriating. When you start getting reprimanded by David Lee (not exactly Anthony Mason) to man-up, then you know the theatrics have reached a critical level. Blake’s flopping is so egregious and lame, that it’s funny…funnier than him missing free throws in Kia commercials, for sure – but equally lame.
With all this said, though, it’s time for me to drop the crusade. I won’t take to Twitter to pick apart Blake’s game when he’s voted to start the 2013 All-Star game. I won’t interrupt my NBA crew’s email chain with d-baggish one-liners, like, “Blake’s a customer.” I won’t spend Clippers telecasts doing nothing other than keeping a running tab of all Blake mistakes. It’s obsessive, petty, unproductive and lame, on my part. I’m moving forward…and back to Dwight Howard.