“I’m more traditional [than Blake Griffin]. I guess you could say I’m more of a back to the basket type of guy. I’m a face-up guy. He [Griffin] is more explosive, a little more athletic, so we’re very different.”
“I think with this new wave of players that are coming into the league, players like [Russell] Westbrook, [Derrick] Rose, [Kevin] Durant, and Blake, and myself and many others included, I feel like those guys just play hard. And
Blake’s right up there in the upper echelon with those players.”
The line weaved around several stanchions and extended beyond a large curtain to the edge of the convention hall. Griffin, wearing gray sweatpants and a white t-shirt with a black Nike swoosh, was scheduled to make an hour long appearance and spent nearly all of it shaking hands, posing for pictures, and autographing action shots from a recent home game against Memphis.
After Griffin was done signing, he was photographed next to a special edition Kia Optima that was painted to look like a basketball.
Click here to see more photos from the event
Another fan named Stefan, who was wearing a red Griffin jersey, agreed with Dewayne and Antany. Asked what he liked about the second-year All-Star, Stefan simply said, “Everything.” “He’s so athletic and dunks… all the time.”
While Antany, Dewayne, and Stefan were still waiting in line, Kathryn from Orlando had just made it through. She had two pictures of Griffin with her, including a headshot with the words “WOW’ next to it that could have easily been mistaken for a poster inside “Tiger Beat” magazine. Kathryn also had what amounted to a monologue about getting to me her favorite player.
“I’m here today to see Blake Griffin, my all-time favorite basketball player,” Kathryn said. “The only reason I even like basketball is because he’s super awesome and funny.”
She continued, saying, “It’s so cool [to meet him] and we’ve been up since 5 o’clock in the morning to get a ride here and we ended up having to rent a car.”
“The one that stands out the most is probably Chris Paul. You know, he’s just so patient. He never gets rattled. He just understands the game so well.”
“Man, Chris is a great guy. It’s a guy that you know his heart. On the court he’s a different person. He’s an animal. But off the court, he’s fun-loving, big heart, and all about family, all about doing what he can for others. He loves to just smile and enjoy life. That’s why we all get along. That’s why we all hang out because we all love the same things. Chris is one of my best friends and I can’t be more than happy for him. Not only getting married this summer, but getting the opportunity to play in a place that he’s thrilled about being and a place that really loves him and is going to love him for years to come. Hopefully, they take a little while to get real, real, real good, but they’re fast tracking that thing over there in L.A. And I’m happy for him.”
Philadelphia 76ers swingman Evan Turner knocked down 14 shots from behind the basket in less than one minute, a record that stood for a little more than 20 minutes.
Following Team Shaq’s practice, Ricky Rubio connected on 18 shots in the same timeframe, besting Turner and becoming the world record holder for “most shots in one minute from behind the backboard.”
Prior to Turner and Rubio’s sharpshooting, players were asked to assemble in teams of five and attempt to make more than 11 shots from beyond halfcourt in less than a minute. Team Chuck’s two five-man groups took 83 shots and made one, but Team Shaq’s players fared much better.
Group one, consisting of Kemba Walker, Landry Fields, Rubio, Brandon Knight, and anchor Blake Griffin made three out of 32 shots. Rubio nailed two, and had a third sail through the net that was waved off after time had expired.
Griffin went 0-for-5. “Yeah, I wanted to make one,” Griffin said. “But it’s all good. It’s just for fun and games.”
Remember to check out our live blog from tonight's BBVA Rising Stars Challenge HERE.
Click here to see more photos from practice
“We didn’t do much,” Griffin said. “We kind of just walked around.”
The team went over brief sets, including a couple of back screens that could get Griffin a wide open alley-oop or ten from the point guard-heavy starting lineup. Team Shaq will likely use Knicks’ sensation Jeremy Lin, Timberwolves star Ricky Rubio, Detroit Pistons’ teammates Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe alongside Griffin. Other than the mini walkthrough, the players casually shot around. Griffin took a few 3-pointers, left-handed shots from the elbow, and step-backs from the perimeter. However, despite pleas from the fans inside the Orange County Convention Center, he did not dunk; perhaps saving his best for later in the evening.
A couple hours later, during media availability for Sunday’s All-Star Game, Griffin was asked about playing with such a plethora of great lead guards. The Clippers star said he’s looking forward to “Linsanity” as well as catching a few lobs from Rubio. After the Clippers defeated the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Griffin joked that he hoped he wouldn’t be “lactose-Lintolerant.”
It didn’t appear so Friday. Backstage before practice he was chatting up his Team Shaq sidekick as they awaited introductions from an on-court hype man.
It’s expected that Griffin will play reduced minutes as compared to the rest of his teammates. He’s the only player on either team in the Rising Stars game to pull double-duty in the big game Sunday.
After that we’re going to the Orange County Convention Center to check out the practices for Team Chuck and Team Shaq leading up to tonight’s BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. As much as Griffin took over All-Star Weekend last year in L.A., day one of this year’s festivities may belong to Jeremy Lin. He’s playing alongside Griffin on Team Shaq, but after practice he’s slated for his own media availability session. It should be interesting.