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Blake Griffin can't wait to restart his career with Clippers

Last year's No. 1 overall pick learned how to be patient while rehabbing his injured knee, but what he really wants to do is play.

June 22, 2010|By Lisa Dillman

Temporary ownership of New York was almost one giddy year ago for the NBA's No. 1 draft pick, and you can say Blake Griffin's goals have been vastly reshaped in the last 12 months.

Knee surgery has a way of doing that.

"It seems like forever ago, but at the same time, it seems like a whirlwind," Griffin said of going No. 1.

Griffin, the Clippers' power forward, has been pain free after a long and winding road of rehabilitation, and restrictions on his activities were lifted in May.

But Griffin, a few days before Thursday's NBA draft in New York, talked about a recent breakthrough and sounded like a little kid who had been allowed to sit at the table with the adults.

"I was so excited just to play one-on-one again," he said in a telephone interview. "I was asking Craig [Smith] and Mardy [Collins] if they wanted to, 'All right, can we play one-on-one?'"

The self-deprecating Griffin chuckled, adding: "It was kind of sad."

Griffin was speaking from a long day of commercial activities in New York and was not planning to stay for Thursday's draft.

The Clippers have the No. 8 pick, barring any last-minute deals, so they could have two first-round picks in the lineup making their NBA debut together this fall. Griffin was forced to develop new qualities since he suffered a stress fracture of his left kneecap in the Clippers' final preseason game — and sat out the entire regular season.

"I'd like to say I found out how to be patient, I guess," he said. "Really, just wait things out, take your time and not rush things because there's so much that goes into coming back."

There will be, apparently, one small modification.

"You're going to see the normal Blake," he said. "I might save the jumping over the scorer's table for the regular season. I'm gonna play hard, though; that's how I was taught to play. It's the only way I know how to play."

For him, the bottom line is defined by the court.

"It's not really about being remembered or being forgotten," Griffin said. "For me, it's about playing. I don't need to have the feeling of being remembered or anything like that. Once we get out there and start playing, everything will take care of itself."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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