Posted May 4 2011 4:47PM - Updated May 4 2011 9:11PM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Blake Griffin played his entire rookie season like a man making up for lost time.
Now that the Los Angeles Clippers' dynamic dunker has been named the league's top rookie in a landslide, he's already thinking about ways to improve on a delayed NBA debut that was well worth the wait.
Griffin accepted the Rookie of the Year award on Wednesday, becoming the NBA's first unanimous choice for the award in 21 years.
The No. 1 overall draft pick out of Oklahoma in 2009 missed all of the 2009-10 season after breaking his kneecap in the Clippers' final preseason game. But Griffin returned with one of the most impressive debut campaigns in a generation. Griffin frequently thought back to that season in limbo while picking up his award during a party at the Clippers' training complex.
"To miss my entire first year and then be able to be up here today is definitely satisfying," Griffin said. "When I got injured, I just decided I had to come back even better. I had to keep improving even while I couldn't play, and I dedicated myself to that."
Griffin received every first-place vote from a panel of 118 media members, easily outdistancing Washington's John Wall. The Clippers' 22-year-old power forward is the first unanimous choice since San Antonio's David Robinson in 1990, and just the third in NBA history after Ralph Sampson in 1984. New Orleans' Chris Paul came close in 2006, missing by one vote.
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Griffin led all rookies in scoring and rebounding while playing in all 82 games for the Clippers, finishing 12th in the entire NBA in scoring (22.5) and fourth in rebounds (12.1) while ranking second among rookies in assists (3.8).
The 6-foot-10 Griffin was the NBA's first rookie All-Star since Yao Ming in 2003, and he won the dunk contest at All-Star weekend in Staples Center with an iconic leap over a car.
Although Griffin's aerial acrobatics made him a staple of nightly highlight reels with more than 200 dunks of varying viciousness, he's already at work in the offseason rounding into an even more complete player.
"He's a highlight at any second of the game, but he's also smart enough to know that the fundamentals are the part that will make him better and help this team," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He handles it very well. He has great humility and great character."
Griffin received a maximum 590 points in the voting, while Wall had 91 of the 118 second-place votes to finish with 295 points. New York's Landry Fields received 12 second-place votes and 62 points, but finished fourth in the overall voting behind Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, who got 11 second-place votes and 81 points.
San Antonio's Gary Neal and Detroit's Greg Monroe were the only other rookies receiving votes.
Wall, the No. 1 pick last summer, tweeted his approval of Griffin's victory, saying: "Congrats to the homie ... well deserved!"
Cousins' teammate, Tyreke Evans, won the award with the Kings last season.
Griffin was named the Western Conference's Rookie of the Month six times, becoming the first player to sweep that award since Paul did it with the Hornets five years ago. He's the first rookie to average 20 points and 10 rebounds since Elton Brand in 1999-00, and the only rookie among the league's top 45 scorers and top 20 rebounders.
Griffin showed remarkable consistency, even during the dog days of the Clippers' 18th non-winning season in 19 years. He had 63 games with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds, third-most in the NBA, including 27 straight.
"This is just the beginning of a career that's going to be very special, very fun to watch," Del Negro said. "I've had this date on my calendar since the first day I walked into the gym and saw Blake shooting baskets."
Griffin faded only briefly, going through a seven-game stretch in March without a double-double, but finished strong with his second triple-double in Los Angeles' season finale.
Despite the 32-50 Clippers' struggles while missing the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years, Griffin's fame soared as his freakish athleticism captured the basketball world's attention.
"He has matured enough to know he doesn't have to win every game," said Griffin's father, Tommy, who coached his sons in high school in Oklahoma City. "He knows it's a long process about getting better every day, and then seeing where he is in a year or two years. That's just how Blake is. He's not ever going to be satisfied."
Griffin won over fans with a humble personality and a dry wit, which he showed off when comedian Norm MacDonald showed up at Griffin's news conference and warned the Clippers star about the curse of the Rookie of the Year award: Nobody has ever won it twice in a row.
"I'll try as hard as I can," Griffin said with a grin. "That's going on top of the goals for next year."
Griffin is the first Clippers player to win the award since Terry Cummings won it with the San Diego Clippers in 1983. Adrian Dantley, Bob McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio won the award during a five-year stretch with the Buffalo Braves, who moved to San Diego in 1978.
Griffin shares general manager Neil Olshey's optimism about the Clippers' future, which includes ample salary cap space and a talented young roster featuring Eric Gordon, centers DeAndre Jordan and Chris Kaman, and fellow rookie Eric Bledsoe.
"We're excited about where the Clippers are headed," Griffin said. "We just laid the foundation, and we can't wait until next year."
All-Time Rookie of the Year Winners
Season - Player, Team
1952-53 - Don Meineke, Fort Wayne
1953-54 - Ray Felix, Baltimore
1954-55 - Bob Pettit, Milwaukee
1955-56 - Maurice Stokes, Rochester
1956-57 - Tom Heinsohn, Boston
1957-58 - Woody Sauldsberry, Philadelphia
1958-59 - Elgin Baylor, Minneapolis
1959-60 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia
1960-61 - Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
1961-62 - Walt Bellamy, Chicago
1962-63 - Terry Dischinger, Chicago
1963-64 - Jerry Lucas, Cincinnati
1964-65 - Willis Reed, New York
1965-66 - Rick Barry, San Francisco
1966-67 - Dave Bing, Detroit
1967-68 - Earl Monroe, Baltimore
1968-69 - Wes Unseld, Baltimore
1969-70 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee
1970-71 - Dave Cowens, Boston (tie)
1970-71 - Geoff Petrie, Portland (tie)
1971-72 - Sidney Wicks, Portland
1972-73 - Bob McAdoo, Buffalo
1973-74 - Ernie DiGregorio, Buffalo
1974-75 - Keith Wilkes, Golden State
1975-76 - Alvan Adams, Phoenix
1976-77 - Adrian Dantley, Buffalo
1977-78 - Walter Davis, Phoenix
1978-79 - Phil Ford, Kansas City
1979-80 - Larry Bird, Boston
1980-81 - Darrell Griffith, Utah
1981-82 - Buck Williams, New Jersey
1982-83 - Terry Cummings, San Diego
1983-84 - Ralph Sampson, Houston
1984-85 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1985-86 - Patrick Ewing, New York
1986-87 - Chuck Person, Indiana
1987-88 - Mark Jackson, New York
1988-89 - Mitch Richmond, Golden State
1989-90 - David Robinson, San Antonio
1990-91 - Derrick Coleman, New Jersey
1991-92 - Larry Johnson, Charlotte
1992-93 - Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando
1993-94 - Chris Webber, Golden State
1994-95 - Grant Hill, Detroit (tie)
1994-95 - Jason Kidd, Dallas (tie)
1995-96 - Damon Stoudamire, Toronto
1996-97 - Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
1997-98 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio
1998-99 - Vince Carter, Toronto
1999-00 - Elton Brand, Chicago (tie)
1999-00 - Steve Francis, Houston (tie)
2000-01 - Mike Miller, Orlando
2001-02 - Pau Gasol, Memphis
2002-03 - Amar'e Stoudemire, Phoenix
2003-04 - LeBron James, Cleveland
2004-05 - Emeka Okafor, Charlotte
2005-06 - Chris Paul, New Orleans
2006-07 - Brandon Roy, Portland
2007-08 - Kevin Durant, Seattle
2008-09 - Derrick Rose, Chicago
2009-10 - Tyreke Evans, Sacramento
2010-11 - Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers
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