There comes a time during the course of an athlete’s career where the light comes on for them to propel themselves to the next level. It is a switch that is really something that cannot be readily explained. But you know it when you see it. Blake Griffin has had superstar written all over his DNA since he first stepped on the court as a professional basketball player.
The talent has always been there. The will to get better each and every season has been backed up by Griffin’s productivity on the court. Beyond the highlight reel dunks and aerial acrobatics is the sudden explosion of determination and passion that is not adequately measured by the stat sheet. People see Griffin and what they see is a towering presence with the lithe skills of a humming bird.
He can fly through the air with almost the ease of an eagle. Yeah, we all know the cliches that are out there about Griffin’s spectacular play above the rim. What folks tend to miss is the hard, bruising battles he go through on a nightly basis against the best big men in the game.
Griffin brings his hard hat and goes to work. In short, Griffin is more than a pretty face. The former Oklahoma star is more than your average-fly-by-night sky jock. He is the real deal. His stupendous performance in the NBA All-Star game in which he scored 38 points, sort of solidified this point.
Then again, the way Griffin played in the 10 games prior to the NBA All-Star Game, showed off a different player that people hadn’t seen before. He looked unstoppable.With teammate Chris Paul sitting out to heal from an injury, Griffin made the necessary step that elevated him from NBA star to superstar-and not in a monetary and commercial sense.
Games against Miami (43 points, 15 rebounds), Toronto (36 points, 8 rebounds) and Portland (36 points, 10 rebounds) served as a barometer to the growth of Griffin’s expanding game. During the last couple of years, pundits and critics have said repeatedly that Griffin had to improve his game. He was labeled as being one-dimensional-a great dunker and not much else.
Well, that cannot be said anymore about Griffin and the way he plays.
Griffin’s has made the transition of high-flyer to being the complete package. He can run the run floor. He can bang. He’ll look to hit the open man for an easy bucket. And with head coach Doc Rivers at the helm, Griffin has become a lock down defender. What Griffin did at the NBA All-Star game is pales in description. And if he keep up the way he’s been playing, the Clippers stand a great chance of going deep into the postseason.
When the Clippers hired Rivers, going deep in the playoffs became almost an immediate mandate. As coach of the Boston Celtics, Rivers molded the Big Three in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen into perennial NBA title contenders, and eventually league champions. So the expectations of taking the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals and beyond has coincided with the dependency that Griffin would step up his game.
Paul may be the floor conductor of the Clippers, but Griffin is the team’s heartbeat. Paul keeps things moving, orchestrating parts here and there to form in the right place at the right time. Griffin is responsible for bringing down the rain. Lately, Griffin has been able to do that quite well. LeBron James and the Heat can attest to this fact. So can Damian Lillard and the Trailblazers.
Let’s not stop there. People have been quick to call out Griffin and say he needed to step up his game. Well, now that he has, who is going to stop him?