Blake Griffin unfazed by All-Star load
LOS ANGELES -- When Blake Griffin was selected to participate in the slam dunk contest at NBA All-Star Weekend, it surprised nobody. Nor was anyone shocked to see him on the roster for the rookie-sophomore game.
And after a January in which the Los Angeles Clippers rookie averaged 26 points, 13.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists over 14 games, he'd certainly earned himself a spot in Sunday's main event, the first rookie selected by the coaches since Tim Duncan in 1998.
Cramming it all in, though, makes for a busy few days.
"Originally, I agreed to do the slam dunk, and then they said I made the Rookie Game, so that was cool," Griffin said Friday afternoon as the Western Conference All-Stars met the media in downtown Los Angeles. "Fortunately I was able to make the big game, so why not? I'd rather do it that way. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you take advantage of it."
Did he ever think about cutting back on his schedule?
"Nobody actually gave me that option," he smiled.
Not surprisingly, a player known for boundless energy isn't concerned about this weekend's workload.
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"I thought about that a little bit, but as far as taking care of my body during the season, when we do get an off day I definitely take advantage of that," Griffin said. "I'm not really too worried about it. We're 50-something games into the season, and I feel pretty good still. I've just got to make sure I keep doing the things I do to stay healthy all season."
With every passing day, health is becoming less of a concern for the top pick in the 2009 NBA draft, who missed the entire 2009-10 season after injuring his left knee in preseason, eventually undergoing surgery to repair the damage. Griffin said he passed on opportunities to attend last year's game in Dallas, instead returning home to Oklahoma City and watching the game on television.
This season, success has come so fast, Griffin has actually exceeded his own ambitious time frame.
"I had hoped to be an All-Star by my second year. I saw what [Chicago Bulls point guard] Derrick Rose did. That was kind of a goal for me," Griffin said. "It's awesome to have all this, but at the same time it's a small part of who I want to be as a player, and where I want to be as a player. I have a lot of growth to do, I have a lot of learning to do. This makes me hungrier, and I appreciate that."
Griffin is widely considered the favorite in Saturday's dunk competition. Friday, he said Clippers point guard Baron Davis would be involved in one of his dunks, but refused to elaborate. "You'll just have to wait to see it. It all came together pretty nicely," Griffin said. "He was big in giving me some good ideas."
Brian Kamenetzky co-hosts the Land O' Lakers blog for ESPNLosAngeles.com.