By Gary Montgomery –
If you are one of those Angeleno’s who felt the ground shaking under their feet last Saturday evening, I am here to put you at ease. It was not a precursor to the Big One. Nor was it any other impending danger. It was the Clippers young star Blake ‘The Quake’ Griffin doing what the Clippers Nation has come to expect from its young superstar. After a relatively quiet first quarter turning in 8 routine points and 6 rebounds, the young man finally got an opportunity to give the Staples Center crowd of 19,373 Clippers’ faithful what they came to see, Griffin rising high above the rim and pounding down one of his thunderous dunks.
The young man made them wait a while but in the end, didn’t disappoint. Early in the third quarter, Griffin dashed down the right side of the court, streaking past the defense while receiving a near perfect toss from Eric Gordon and throwing it down over his left shoulder. His dunk brought the Staples Center crowd to its feet.
Griffin possesses an amazing blend of pure athleticism, skill and basketball acumen that is seldom seen in such a young player. Of all the great talent that has donned the Clippers’ uniform, Griffin is arguably the most electric player ever drafted by the team. Technically, a rookie this season, Griffin is in his second year as a pro after spending all of last season on injured reserve after knee surgery.
The Clippers made Griffin their number 1 pick in the 2009 draft out of Oklahoma. After two years as a Sooner, Griffin was averaging 22.5 points per game and had won nearly ever honor available to him when he declared for the NBA early entry draft. Griffins first season ended before it ever got started. During the final preseason game of the 2009-10 season, Griffin hurt his knee, landing awkwardly after a dunk. The original diagnosis was a stress fracture that would require several weeks to heal.
Later, it was revised, the team announced that Griffin’s knee cap would require surgery and he would miss the entire season. It was fear that team had been ‘Clipped’ by lightning once again. Long time Clippers’ fans couldn’t help but recall a near identical scenario nearly two decades ago with another prized number one pick.
In 1988, the Clippers made Danny Manning, the NCAA Player of the Year their first pick. Manning had just led the Kansas Jayhawks to a national championship and was expected to change the team’s fortunes forever. But, after just 26 games into his rookie campaign, Manning was injured and diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and would require arthroscopic knee surgery and missed the entire season. Manning would return in the 1989-90 season, peaking slowly toward his best season as a Clipper in the 1992-93 season when he averaged 22 points per game. But, Manning was traded to Atlanta the following year. He would go on to play for six other teams before retiring in 2003.
Sadly, this and similar stories chronicle the 41 year history of Clippers’ basketball. So, long time fans although loving every minute Griffin is on the court have more than ample reason to temper their enthusiasm . The weight of Clippers’ history is always on their minds. Injury or early departure has always been inevitable for Clippers’ fans.
Something seems to always go wrong and prevent the team from coalescing around their young stars and getting to the NBA’s top echelon. Clippers history reads like a who’s who of the NBA. Bob McAdoo, Adrian Dantly, Byron Scott, David Thompson, Tom Chambers, and Lamar Odom all went on to success with other teams.
The Clippers Nation is hoping that Blake ‘Quake’ Griffin won’t be the next one to join that list.
G.Montgomery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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