The Blake Griffin Effect
The Clippers' budding superstar is the talk of the NBA and is already moving the needle
Clippers forward Blake Griffin is universally impressive in his first season in the NBA, putting up a double-double nightly while concurrently serving as one of very few bright spots in the Clips' organization.
And even though the team is actually doing a whole lot worse this season than last, when Griffin missed the entire season with a left knee injury, this year he's had a tangible impact on the franchise's overall success.
Last season, the Clippers were 20th in average attendance among 30 NBA teams. Through 15 home games this season, they're up to 15th.
Looking at it broadly, we're at the very beginning stages of Griffin's superstar status. Essentially, we're beginning to see him sell tickets on his own.
Jersey and team merchandise sales rankings won't be released by the NBA until next month, but don't be surprised if Griffin is fairly high up on that list.
And, similarly, expect the Clippers' attendance numbers to keep going up, too.
In the meantime, here's a sampling from around the internet of what his peers have been saying about him this season -- complete with opposing coach's remarks, comments from those who have been dunked on and plain-old Griffin admirers:
Lakers forward Ron Artest: "His highlights are sick. I wish he dunks on me. I'm not going to lie. I hope he dunks on me, puts his shoulders on my face and like, 'Aaaaah!' Just crazy. Lights it up. His highlights are stupid."
Knicks forward Ronny Turiaf: "Oh, unbelievable. There's a reason why the guy is the No. 1 draft pick."
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro: "Right now, he is a great athlete playing basketball. Our job is to make him a basketball player who is athletic. You don't want to give him too much. You want to let him play and enjoy himself and learn on the fly a little bit. But he wants to get better, and he will. He's too good of a kid and too smart of a player not to go in that direction."
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: "I think he's terrific. I think he needs to trust his shot a little more. When he starts letting it fly, he's going to be even better."
76ers coach Doug Collins: "I watched Blake when he had his great seasons there at Oklahoma, watched him go through his agony of his injuries, and watched him work hard and bounce back. He's a spectacular athlete and magnificent basketball player."
Jazz forward Al Jefferson, after Utah beat the Clippers in overtime in November: "It was a fight, Blake Griffin and those guys -- I was so happy when he fouled out. I've never been so excited about something in my life, because that boy, he's amazing."
Clippers guard Randy Foye, on when he met Griffin: "First thing I said, 'I know he can jump really high.' And he said, 'That kid can handle the ball.' Sometimes if Blake is running and I've got the ball at half court, I just toss it up to him because he can handle it. Most bigs can't guard him because he's about 6-9, gets low to the ground and is really explosive."
Knicks center Timofey Mozgov, on famously being dunked on twice by Griffin, translated from Russian into English: "Yes, this guy is a fantastic dunker. Of course I knew about it. But it's one thing to know it and it's something completely different to see it with your own eyes. So, never in my [life] I've seen anything like that."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: "I look at him like a gladiator. He's stronger than everybody he plays against and he's more powerful and he's quicker. Most of the time, he's more determined on top of it. He's one tough cat."
Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal: "He's fabulous. You guys know I don't give it up to anybody, but I'm giving it up to that young fella ... I think he has the ability. He just now has to figure out a way to lift his team to where they win all the time now. Right now he's putting up big numbers, but [the media] are going to start turning the table real soon on him. 'Why's he putting up big numbers and his team ain't winning?' I know once those guys start to play together and win, it'll be more of a story."
IT'S L.A., AND IT'S LIVE
For more coverage of the complete Los Angeles sports scene, visit ESPNLA.com. »
Suns coach Alvin Gentry: "There is an ideal matchup for him, but he plays for the [NFL] Cardinals. I'll get my man, double-D [Darnell Dockett], out here and he'll bounce him around a little bit. ... He [Griffin] has got a little bit of young Amare in his game. He just tries to catch it and dunk it over everybody in sight. He's an extremely hard-working kid."
TNT analyst and former NBA guard Kenny Smith: "Regardless of if he is the Rookie of the Year or not ... [Griffin] is must-see TV. He's the guy that will change the face of what the power forward looks like and does in basketball. Not too many guys can do that."
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni: "Griffin, he has some dunks that you don't see very often."
Lakers color analyst Stu Lantz: "I think Blake does a lot of things at this point of his career that are really surprising. I've been around bigs for a long, long time and I'm very impressed with his overall footwork, his ability to read, to react. ... I'm a big Blake Griffin fan right now."
Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan: "He's a monster. He's just so powerful, so explosive."
Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony: "Blake is a raw talent, just a real specimen. He's a guy who's just explosive and I don't think believes in layups. I think he makes his AAU coaches proud, because they always teach you, when you get in the paint, to dunk the ball. ... He plays hard, man, that's one of the attributes to his game. Anytime you have that much explosiveness, you can almost do anything out there, jump from anywhere. People got to be aware of where you're at with the ball -- and what you're going to do with it."
Warriors guard Stephen Curry: "He's an animal on the boards. He gets to the offensive glass as well as anyone I've seen. They feed off his energy, so we're going to have to match that."
Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire, on comparisons between him and Griffin: "Very, very similar. I remember when Blake was in college and attended my skills academy camp. Definitely saw a lot of me in him then. He's playing well for a rookie. I think this is his breakout game."
Thunder coach Scott Brooks: "He's really, really impressive. I've seen almost three of their games now and every game he's getting better, and he's a powerful athlete who's quick, smart and really does a great job of moving the ball and not looking just for himself. ... He's doing an unbelievable job in the league so far. As a fan of the game, it's good to see him on the floor. For any player, sitting out a game is tough. I can't imagine sitting out a whole year for a guy who loves the game of basketball. I'm happy to see him back on the floor. He just gives that team a whole new look, a spark. He brings a lot of energy when he's on the floor."
Clippers guard Willie Warren: "His middle name should be that four-letter word: H-A-R-D. He only knows that way."
Lakers forward Lamar Odom: "He'll take your breath away with one move."
More Odom: "His fundamentals don't get talked about enough. It's his passion for the game, he plays hard. You don't find that in young players."
Lakers play-by-play broadcaster Joel Meyers: "Blake Griffin, at this juncture, for everything he brings to the Clippers, a little drive and determination that's contagious ... they need it."