Blake Griffin wants to spend entire career with Clippers
MANILA, Philippines – In a phone interview with international media members on Monday, January 5 (PH time), Los Angeles Clippers all-star power forward Blake Griffin said that he's proud to play for the Clippers and loves the opportunity to spend the remaining years of his career with them.
"Yeah, I love playing for Los Angeles," said Griffin, who's averaging 22.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 4.9 APG this NBA season. "I love playing for the Clippers. I proudly represent them."
Griffin was quick to point out that having total control of his future is something he won't have because of the nature of the NBA, where trades and free agency decisions are close to unpredictable. "Basketball is one of those things that is sometimes out of your control," he said.
Nonetheless, if the chance presents itself, remaining a member of the Clippers organization is something he would want.
"I love the opportunity to play for one franchise and play for this franchise and play for these fans and for this city for my career."
Griffin's words should sound like music to Clippers fans. Throughout the franchise's history, they've had to deal with multiple losing seasons, being the overshadowed professional basketball team in Los Angeles, and a racist owner, who's now been banished from the NBA.
But since drafting Griffin in 2009, Los Angeles' fortunes have turned. They added all-star point guard Chris Paul and a collection of reliable role players to make them a championship contender not long after, and put former champion head coach Doc Rivers in charge of coaching and player personnel decisions.
They now also have a new owner who is more admired than the previous one – or at the least much more energetic.
"It's a different atmosphere, and I think everybody can see that," Griffin said about new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. "From top to bottom, I think it's just a different vibe. He kind of gave the franchise a bit of hope and a little fresh taste of everything."
"It's great to have an owner who's so involved and so enthusiastic about winning. Not just winning, but treating people the right way, and making sure that everybody's taken care of."
After coming out of the gates for the 2014-2015 NBA season with a slow start, the Clippers have been piling up wins over the past few weeks and now stand at 23-11, good for fifth place in the always-competitive Western Conference.
"I think we just found our groove," Griffin said about his team bouncing back from their lethargic beginning to the season. "[We] found the pace of our offense and started sharing the ball… And then defensively, we had each other's backs."
"If we concentrate on playing the right way and playing in a way that makes us successful, then we'll be fine."
Though the Clips are 12 games above .500, they're still far from catching up to the leaders of the Wester Conference standings, some of which the Clippers have shared playoff battles with over the past few years. Many would call the Memphis Grizzlies (25-9), Golden State Warriors (26-5), and Oklahoma City Thunder (17-17) as Los Angeles' biggest rivals, but Griffin prefers not to use that word.
"I'm not sure if I would consider any rivalry," Griffin said about the three teams. "We played the Grizzlies in the playoffs for two years out of the last four. Maybe you can say that [they're our rivals]."
"I think any time that you place a team in the playoffs, it can be considered a heated match-up, but maybe not a rivalry."
While Los Angeles is battling its way up the standings, the defending champion San Antonio Spurs are holding on to the seventh seed while dealing with injuries to key players like Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, who are both in the starting lineup.
The Spurs have looked vulnerable so far this season, especially this past December, where there was a stretch they lost 6 out of 7 games. But Griffin, whose team lost a playoff series to the Spurs in 2012, is not taking them for granted.
"The Spurs, you have to give them respect. They've been there multiple years. There's been times when people wrote them off, said they couldn't do them anymore, but they always found a way. So you shouldn't count them out and give them the respect they deserve. They've earned it."
But Los Angeles isn't worried about just the Spurs as they hope to win the west. "You could probably name the top eight, nine teams in the West and say that those are the teams that you fight through to get the championship," said Grififn.
"It's really not just one or two teams this year, it's a multitude of teams." – Rappler.com