Clippers after deadline: Blake Griffin reflects on journey
He was quietly pleased and introspective after he scored 24 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked four shots on Thursday night in the Clippers' 100-95 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.
The numbers were fine and all. But it was the mere fact that Griffin was playing his first game in nearly a year at Staples Center that had him running the gamut of emotion.
"It's great to be back," Griffin said. "When I was pulling up today, I just kind of smiled. I was literally just sitting in my car, smiling."
Rookie year, again.
"Last year, 41 times, I drove to the arena and put on a suit and sat and watched," he said. "So to actually be back and play is awesome. I think it's going to be a fun year."
Griffin amended that last statement right away, saying: "It is going to be a fun year with the way we play. Fans will have things to look forward to."
It's one thing for fans and the media to recognize that Griffin is special with his athletic ability. But some interesting accolades are coming from NBA collegues. Before the game, the Nuggets' Kenyon Martin was talking to Denver Post reporter Benjamin Hochman about Griffin.
"He’s crazy-athletic, plays hard, plays the game the right way," Martin said. "That’s what I love about him.”
On Wednesday, I was chatting with Clippers reserve center DeAndre Jordan about his injured leg and talk, naturally, turned to his Griffin. We talked about his fearlessness and how much time he spent crashing to the floor against the Spurs in Mexico City on Tuesday night.
"He likes the hardwood -– a lot," Jordan said. "It’s a love-hate relationship between those two.”
Photo: Clippers power forward Blake Griffin challenges a shot by Nuggets center Shelden Wiliams in the first half Thursday night. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times