Athlete of the Week: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

Just when you thought the NBA had enough stars...

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Athlete of the Week: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

There have been many rookies that have taken the league by storm; from much heralded guys like LeBron James to guys who just had that ‘it’ factor from the beginning like Derrick Rose, but none of these guys have garnered as much respect in as little time as the Los Angeles Clippers phenom Blake Griffin.

Griffin, who missed what would have been his  rookie season in 2009 due to a stress fracture in his kneecap, is posting some ridiculous numbers this year in his first season of action. He is averaging 23 points a game along with 12 boards and 3 assists and can frequently be seen among Sportcenter highlights on an almost nightly basis (heck, he even inspires man-crushes, just ask ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who almost nightly expresses his devotion to Griffin)

Griffin is excelling at every corner of the court and his skill and ferocity is garnering respect not only among his peers, but among opposing coaches as well. This respect was recently displayed by Griffin being selected by coaches to be an All-Star.

It is very unusual for a rookie to receive an All-Star nod in his first season, no matter what stats he puts up, and that’s a huge indicator of the all-around person that Griffin is. He may slam one down in your face but he isn’t going to flex his muscles and rub it in afterwords, that’s just not Blake. He carries himself like a man fighting for playing time and in a manner that is both respectful and mature beyond his years.

This demeanor, or aura he represents, was best summed up by Minnesota Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis who was asked about the rookie phenom a few weeks ago by ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne.

"I think players respect other players that play hard and are competitive," Rambis said. "They always respect that and they respect a player’s nastiness.
"A young player that doesn’t back down from older players in a way that’s not false bravado. He goes about it in a workmanlike fashion. You don’t see him doing any of the other stuff some players do to draw attention to themselves. He just goes out and plays."
If you want a heavy dose of Blake Griffin, check him out on the NBA’s upcoming All-Star weekend, where he will be participating in the All-Star game, the Rookie Challenge and the Slam Dunk Contest.