Griffin likely coming off bench

Updated: September 28, 2009, 9:06 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin has battled Los Angeles' famous traffic. He's played Good Samaritan for a woman in a stalled car. He's been photographed by paparazzi.

Now if only he could get around to the real reason he came to town -- helping the Los Angeles Clippers become a playoff team.

"It's been a long time waiting for this," he said Monday. "I'm ready to get going."

The No. 1 pick in the NBA draft joined his teammates at Staples Center for media day, which began with a glitch. Power within several blocks of the arena went out, cutting the lights shortly before the players took the court. Backup power eventually kicked in, allowing a small group of fans to meet and greet Griffin.

He comes to a team that has had two winning seasons in the last 30 years -- they were 19-63 last season amid a slew of injuries -- and just one playoff appearance since 1997.

Still, Griffin doesn't believe in a so-called Clippers Curse.

"I did some research on my own and there's not enough evidence for me to believe," he said, smiling.

The Clippers have focused their marketing campaign around Griffin, including a full-page color ad in the Los Angeles Times.

"I don't feel like a lot of individual pressure to go out and do this or that," he said. "We have guys that can do all this stuff. I just need to come in and contribute."

But coach Mike Dunleavy said Griffin will open training camp on the bench, with last season's starters -- Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton and Chris Kaman -- retaining their spots.

"If I have to come off the bench, I'm perfectly happy with that," said Griffin, who hasn't been in that position since getting hurt his freshman year at Oklahoma.

He was the consensus college player of the year after leading the nation with 14.4 rebounds per game while averaging 22.7 points last season for the Sooners.

The rookie forward strained his right shoulder during a summer league game in July, but Griffin said it was back to normal in less than a month though the Clippers kept him sidelined longer as a precaution.

Dunleavy liked what he saw from Griffin, who averaged 19.2 points and 10.8 rebounds in summer league play.

"He came in defensively and I don't think he missed a rotation, knew exactly where he's supposed to be and was there and was on time," the coach and general manager said. "For a rookie that really impressed me."

Griffin has amassed some LA stories since arriving the day after the draft.

"The one thing I don't like is the traffic. In Oklahoma, I'm used to getting somewhere," he said. "Here it's like, 'What time is it? I wonder if there's any wrecks?'"

Griffin was returning from lunch on foot with teammate DeAndre Jordan and as they waited to cross the street a woman's car stalled in the intersection.

"He was like, 'Hey, let's take a picture' and I was like, 'We're not going to go help?'" Griffin said. "So we pushed the car over to the side."

The woman, who had a young child in the car, didn't recognize the players. Jordan got his picture and promptly posted it on Twitter.

Dunleavy laid down the team's rules on the social networking site that Griffin, Davis, Jordan and newcomer Rasual Butler are especially active on.

"The minute you step on our property, there's no Twittering," he said. "Once you get into the stadium, there's no Twittering. Same thing with practice. If you're worried about sending messages to people who are not part of your success and what you're trying to do, it doesn't really make sense to me."

During the summer, Griffin hung out with Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp, a fellow Oklahoman, and when he, Davis and Camby were out on the town they turned up in the same club as Lakers star Lamar Odom.

Another time Griffin was eating at a Japanese restaurant when he noticed he was being photographed through the window.

"Somebody called me the next day and said, 'You were on TMZ,'" he said. "It's different."

Mostly though, Griffin's days begin at 7 a.m. with a five-hour workout, followed by lunch with Jordan ("People might wonder about that," he joked), running errands, dinner, shooting for two hours in the evening and then bed, often by 9:30 p.m.

"Kind of a loser when you think about it," he said, smiling.

As long as he helps the Clippers avoid another losing season.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press