GRIFFIN RECALLS HIS FIRST VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE, WATCHES TEAM COURTSIDE
There is a remarkable difference between the player Blake Griffin is now and who he was as a rim-rocking Summer League sensation in 2009.
Of course, the dunks are still there and so is the sensation part, but back then the baby-faced Griffin was just getting indoctrinated into the “whirlwind” that is the NBA.
“That’s when the whirlwind kind of started for me,” Griffin said Friday prior to watching the Clippers’ 2013 Summer League debut. “It’s just non-stop. You play a game, you have practice the next day, you have an appearance, this, that and the other.”
Griffin entered that summer as the No. 1 overall pick and Naismith Player of the Year. There was a buzz about town when he took the floor in Las Vegas, where he won MVP by averaging 19.2 points and 10.8 rebounds.
“It was exciting,” said longtime reporter Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review Journal. “They played the first game against the Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center because he was the No. 1 pick. There was definitely a buzz in there.
Griffin said the experience was first peek into what the NBA game was like. ““It’s one of those things where these games aren’t real NBA games, sometimes they’re sloppy. It’s like a mixture of NBA, college and AAU all put together. But for young guys just getting drafted, all you want to do is get out there and do something,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun and it kind of gives you an idea.”
The Clippers group of youngsters, including first round pick Reggie Bullock and undrafted rookies Brandon Davies and Elijah Johnson, are getting an idea of what it’s like over the next two weeks. Griffin sat courtside next to fellow superstar Chris Paul and across from the Clippers bench in the crowded Cox Pavilion. He seemed anxious to see Bullock for the first time in a game setting.
“I just want to see him shoot,” Griffin said of his young teammate. “I know the coaches have told him, ‘Every open shot you get, you shoot it.’”
Bullock scored 18 points and the Clippers’ summer squad won, but, according to Griffin, the most important part of the five-game, two-week stretch is developing as a player.
“You get like three days to practice and they throw you out there,” he said. “But the good thing about Summer League, I hate to say it, but wins aren’t the big picture. It’s about getting into a rhythm and developing and all that. It’s more fun than anything.”
What stood about besides the fun?
“How long you are here for. That’s what stood out to me. It’s only five games but you’re here for like 12 days and it’s non-stop.”