GRIFFIN’S THIRD ALL-STAR WEEKEND OFFERS A CHANCE TO "RELAX"

HOUSTON – Rest.

It’s a word somewhat unfamiliar to Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin, a player who is defined as much by his work ethic as his spectacular dunks. 

Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph called Griffin a “workaholic” and Bulls center Joakim Noah said he “respects” Griffin for being a “hard worker.” 

That’s what makes the 2013 All-Star Weekend a unique experience for Griffin. It’s his third trip to game, but the first time he has not had obligations on All-Star Friday or Saturday, or when considering rookie season in Los Angeles, both. It’s the first time it may actually feel like a break. 

“This is great,” Griffin said. “I was kind of looking forward to this, just doing the game and kind of relaxing. I get to spend time with friends and family. It’s been fun.”

Of course, there are still appearances, All-Star practice and the usual media circuit, but that must feel like a day off compared to the gamut that Griffin ran through in 2011. As a rookie he participated in the Rookie-Sophomore challenge on Friday, the dunk contest a day later and Sunday’s main event. In between he was required to make media appearances on behalf of the rookie game and All-Star Saturday in addition to practice sessions for each.

“My first year was a whirlwind because I didn’t know what to expect and then coming out and doing all of those things,” Griffin said. “And last year, still with the rookie-sophomore game it was still a little crazy. This year, I’m really looking forward to just doing [media day], and the practice, and then the game and going home.” 

Compounding his unparalleled 2011 schedule was that the Clippers were in the midst of a record 11-game road trip. Even though the All-Star Game was in Los Angeles, Griffin said he basically did not sleep in his own bed for more than a month. 

This year, the Clippers’ eight-game Grammy road trip concluded four days before he was expected to be in Houston. But after playing four games in five nights, including Thursday’s 125-101 win over the Lakers, Griffin and teammates Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe boarded a plane bound for Texas.

Griffin described the quick turnaround, which included arriving at his hotel around 5 a.m. and shuttling about six miles in another direction to begin the All-Star media tour, as “hectic.” But after Friday, things settled down as he looked ahead to Sunday, where he will be the fourth player since 1993 to appear in an All-Star game in each of his first three seasons. 

Yao Ming, Grant Hill, who is Griffin’s teammate with the Clippers, and Shaquille O’Neal are the only others to do so. Still, Griffin, who averaged 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in his first two All-Star games, says he has not reflected on the historical implications of his third appearance.  

“When I look back, hopefully, I’ll remember all of this and appreciate it all,” Griffin said. “But right now I’m just thankful for the opportunity and thankful that I get to be up here with all these guys.”

And likely thankful for the opportunity to get a little rest.