Portland guard Andre Miller wasn't particularly pleased to hear… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire;…)
Reporting from Atlanta — With the Clippers celebrating the inclusion of rookie Blake Griffin on the Western Conference All-Star team, Coach Vinny Del Negro's mind drifted back to a year ago.
Del Negro, of course, wasn't on the Clippers bench then, still employed by the Chicago Bulls. And Griffin happened to be recovering from knee surgery and hearing buzz that he was injury prone.
"I thought he would make it," Del Negro said Thursday night of the All-Star team. "But you never know with these things. It's even more exciting for Blake after all he went through last year, not being able to play at all."
The Clippers did not practice and were in the air when the announcement was made. Just as they were landing, Twitter feeds, e-mails and text messages started invading the plane. Del Negro walked back to congratulate Griffin, who he said had been watching a movie.
Del Negro had completed his ballot earlier in the week but would not reveal his vote and declined to do so when asked again on Thursday night. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own player. Suns Coach Alvin Gentry told the Phoenix media he voted for Griffin.
There was a long list of deserving players, Del Negro said, adding: "It's tough." He mentioned several quality candidates who missed out: Kevin Love, Monta Ellis and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Anger over Aldridge's omission surfaced in Portland almost immediately at the Trail Blazers' practice but not from the snubbed player. It was from Griffin's nemesis, Andre Miller.
A former Clipper, Miller, who was suspended for a game after smashing into Griffin, declared that the young guys were getting too much respect in the NBA.
"They are putting this guy on every ESPN highlight," he said to the Oregonian. "Yeah, it's cool because fans want to see that, but you isolate him from his team. Especially ... he ain't made nobody better. It's basically his rookie year, as an All-Star? LeBron James didn't make an All-Star team as a rookie."
Miller added that he wasn't "a hater." Good of him to clarify that point.
Meanwhile, there's the matter of this daunting trip. The Clippers have won only three road games this season.
Their task could be made more difficult by an ailing Baron Davis. The point guard hurt his back in the first half against Chicago on Wednesday and Del Negro said it locked up on him.
"It feels better," Del Negro said. "Still pretty stiff today. It'll be a game-time decision to see how loosened up it gets."