Around the NBA: Blake, 01/31/11

January 31, 2011
Nick Matkovich

Blake Griffin
The Bucks take on high-flyin' Blake Griffin and the LA Clippers Monday night at 9:30pm

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Bucks at Clippers | 9:30 PM
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Gameday & TV Companion:
  • Virtual Waiting Room - 01/25/10
  • Bucks Beat Features
  • The NBA has long had athletes that defined certain times and eras. Michael Jordan in the 1980's, pitched every product that made its way into his hands, and desired to maintain a sound public image. Shaquille O'Neal was all things to all people in the mid 90's and early 00's. He starred in movies, released rap albums with the musically disinclined Fu Schnickens, and appeared on every television show willing to have him. His was an era of the marriage of athletes and celebrity. Each one wanted so badly to break into the world of the other. Lest we forget Garth Brooks' foray into Major League Baseball.

    Now, in the era of social networking, video blurbs and the ability to receive immediate gratification for requests, the YouTube Athlete has emerged in our NBA world. Such an athlete must be dynamic, coming at us in clips. His dunks have to confound our sense of gravity, his reckless abandon for life and limb highlighted by a constructive chaos. His game, though entertaining, sound, and exemplary for 48 minutes of observance, is better digested in these snippets when you can view a dunk, let rip a few expletives out of sheer amazement, and email the clip onto your friends. You watch this athlete for the wow factor.

    His name is prefaced with "Did you see what (said athlete)" did last night. There's minimal care as to whether his team lost the game, unless you've delved into that fandom because of his undeniable athletic supremacy. You peruse the box score to see the totals he put up, but what you're really in it for is the dunks.

    So we care little whether the Clippers won or lost. A young team with solid building blocks is a secondary story to the blitzkrieg of YouTube packages that capture the ability Blake Griffin has to dunk the basketball.

    There's this, and this, that, and that. All created for that collective head-shaking eye-popping moment where Griffin has immersed himself in a game of individual one-upmanship.

    Griffin has created a rookie buzz in his second season that we haven't seen since LeBron's first year. Past Rookie of the Year winners like Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant, and Derrick Rose created a murmur, but there was a progression that people sought out from game one to game 82. Griffin burst onto the scene with a willingness to let anyone watch his aerial attack upon the basket. Barring injuries, which is a scary sidebar seeing that Griffin missed all of last season with a stress fracture, eventually revealing itself as a broken kneecap, Griffin will be a near-unanimous choice for rookie of the year. I say near-unanimous because one can never underestimate the bold-faced aloofness of anyone with a vote.

    The conversation that centers around Griffin takes on near hushed tones. No one directly speaks about the spectacular nature in which he scores. "Did you see what Blake Griffin did," and "Holy (dig into the Richard Pryor vocabulary bag), Griffin treated that defender like the national media lambastes a stoic quarterback," are said in a reserved manner where we don't feel everyone should be exposed or rather entitled to such a style of play.

    The indy-band with hit songs label that Griffin totes will be ripped away in a little over two weeks. He takes center stage in Los Angeles to add another historic chapter to the Slam Dunk Contest. While nothing short of dropping the ball from the second balcony of the Staples Center, catching it in one hand and finishing with a tomahawk dunk will appease the national crowd, the contest is a fitting way to fully indoctrinate Griffin into the elite of NBA circles. The whispers will blow into all-out cheers. It will be fashionable to wear a Clippers jersey as a child. Blake Griffin has made the Clippers cool. In other news Eminem will speak to the musical enjoyment he derives of Barry Manilow.

    Our only hiccup on the path towards supreme entertainment is Griffin's injury history. Aside from missing his true rookie season, Griffin was roughed up by Brendan Haywood in the team's loss to Dallas last week. Haywood was assessed a flagrant foul penalty-1 and Griffin received a bruised elbow for his efforts. While the viewing audience might enjoy Griffin's style of play, veterans won't take lightly to receiving a supporting actor role on a collection of Blake Griffin clips and posters. Not to make Griffin public enemy number one, but old men don't want to run second to some athletic freak. Look for more elbows in the back and swinging forearms to come Griffin's way. How he's able to contort his body and respond to cheap shots will speak to his longevity and durability.
    Blake Griffin perfectly presents himself as the YouTube Athlete. Let's hope Griffin's ability to stay healthy runs longer than a myriad of clips spliced with techno music.

    Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.