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T.J. SIMERS

Clippers' Blake Griffin's flair isn't there when he speaks

Clippers rookie attracts a lot of attention with his dunks and other abilities on the court, but as an interview subject, he's just plain boring. The columnist tries to help him out.

January 17, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • Clippers rookie Blake Griffin is congratulated as he heads to the locker room following a 114-107 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday afternoon at Staples Center.
Clippers rookie Blake Griffin is congratulated as he heads to the locker… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

The Clippers have a huge problem with Blake Griffin.

When the game is over, he wraps ice packs around each knee and then sticks both feet into a bucket filled with ice and water. By the way, he wears little footsies over his toes, so he's really not that tough.

But he does all this sitting in front of his locker. And he seems to attract the media, the overflow spilling into DeAndre Jordan's locker, all this after a game in which Griffin scored an NBA season-high 47 points.

Jordan returned from a postgame shower wearing only a towel to find TNT's Craig Sager sitting in his chair. He whined about it to team officials, proving this Clippers team is indeed still young.

But now you've seen the way Sager dresses. Scary. Add a pair of alligator shoes — complete with the eye of the alligator staring back at you — and it's understandable why no one would want to go near the guy.

That left Jordan just standing there waiting for Griffin to say something interesting or colorful so all the reporters might leave. Well, that's never going to happen, so the Clippers have a problem.

To help, I suggested Jordan switch lockers with Chris Kaman, since Kaman never has the need to use it. That would make for empty space, a pretty good way to describe Kaman now that I think about it.

The only other solution is to get Griffin to say something besides clichés so the media might scatter sooner, but that's going to take a lot of work.

The kid is just 21 with limited life experiences. But he has the game of an All Star. Throw in the flair with which he plays, and there is the expectation everything he has to say later will be just as entertaining.

But "it's all about execution,'' as he will tell you, "his teammates doing a good job,'' and everyone just "taking one game at a time.'' He's not quite Nuke Laloosh, but not far removed.

As good as he is, he's going to be interviewed plenty, so for everyone's benefit I told him just how boring he comes off.

"I didn't know I was boring until I was told I was boring,'' he says with a grin.

He says he's never read his own comments in the paper, undoubtedly afraid he might dose off.

As he continues to dominate, he will become the team's top salesman on and off the court — much like Elton Brand.

"I don't try to be boring,'' he says, nodding when told it must come naturally. "I'm just kind of laid-back, talk slow and grew up listening to my dad, who uses clichés.''

His dad, as you have probably already guessed, is a coach. A high school basketball coach.

"So did you roll your eyes listening to your dad talk like the media does now when you talk?''

"I used to, but now it's like, 'I use that [cliché] too,' so I can't roll my eyes,'' he says.

I remind him he might try making eye contact with anyone talking to him, and he says, "I'm sorry,'' while then doing so.

"It's just who I am,'' he says. "It's a part of my personality. I'm shy, and it takes me time to feel comfortable. But I think I can do what's needed without completely changing who I am.''

He did so in a span of just minutes — cracking wise. The Clippers beat the Lakers two days ago, but Griffin says none of the Lakers had anything to say to him during the game.

And why not?

"I probably bore them;'' he says with a smile.

Griffin then takes on a "Good Morning, America"-like voice and says, "I don't want to be fake and say, 'Hey, guys, come on in. Yeah, I thought we did great today.' That's not me.''

He's pretty darn good right now, of course, just the way he is. He's scoring bunches of points, hauling in a ton of rebounds, and his dunks are the talk of the NBA.

He says he didn't know how many points he scored against Indiana. "Sometimes you know,'' he says. "I knew I had two points halfway through the third quarter against the Lakers. I could count" that high.

He's 40 games into his professional career, and the game looks, well, easy. "The game itself is a little bit easier than I thought,'' he says, "But it's just a start for us here.

"It's still a Lakers town; nothing has changed. It's not like we have dethroned the champs.''

Speaking of the Lakers, the media and referees blew Sunday's fracas out of proportion. Griffin is given a chance to apologize for elbowing Lamar Odom in the back and causing a disturbance. He just laughs.

Odom is such a nice guy, he's told. He probably just grabbed on to Griffin's jersey like any other fan would do if given the chance to maybe take it home with him.

"I'm not going to say sorry for that,'' Griffin says with a chuckle. "I watched it several times and he says I rammed up the back of him. As long as they're fouling and putting us on the line, what does that say? That says they're still fighting.''

He was doing the same, he says, interrupting his own comments to remove the footsies protecting his toes.

"You lost respect for me there, didn't you?'' Griffin says while removing the toe protectors. "But check this out.''

He takes a pair of scissors and cuts the ice packs off his knees. "Straight ice on the skin. See. Strong in that department. Now, what was I saying?''

Certainly nothing memorable, but as good as he is, he's still going to get plenty of chances, as the cliché goes, to wax poetic.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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