Sooner or later: Blake Griffin's road to the rafters
Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) is defended by Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) while trying to go to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
There is a powerful new mean machine in the Motor City, built to withstand pressure and with enough horsepower to eliminate obstacles. Plus, he looks pretty good in that red, white and blue, Number 23 too.
Blake Griffin is now a Detroit Piston.
The engine has been restarted and his new journey has been a joyride so far. After tallying two close character-building wins, including rowdy post-game interview victory showers, it seems that Griffin has transitioned seamlessly to his new team. He’s putting up the usual numbers (20 PPG, 9.5 RPG and 6 APG) and is clearly the go-to-guy and primary ball-handler on offense. At age 28, Griffin has officially started the next chapter of his career with a bang.
The 6’10" power forward has come a long way from his days as a youngster learning hoops while engaging in intense one-on-one battles with his older brother Taylor on the family driveway. When their games would get overly physical, their parents, Tommy and Gail, would immediately step-in to call a halt to the competition. They would also keep the brothers in check by homeschooling them for eight years.
In 2003, the Griffin boys were finally immersed in the world as they enrolled at Oklahoma Christian School. It was there that they teamed up and played for the high school basketball team known as the Saints, which was coached by their father. Together, the family took the basketball world by storm by winning a pair of state championships in 2004 and 2005.
When Taylor graduated and accepted a college scholarship at Oklahoma, the younger Griffin took over the reins of the team and led the Saints to another state championship. It was also during this time that Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel took notice of the freak of nature Blake was developing into. But, it wasn’t only Capel who had they eyes on this high-flying, rim-rattling monster. Duke, Kansas and even the University of North Carolina began their pursuit of Griffin. Despite the tremendous allure of being a part of a big time collegiate basketball program, Griffin choose family and joined his brother Taylor to turn the Sooners into a national powerhouse but not before delivering yet another state title for the Saints in his final year in high school.
During his freshman year in college, Griffin averaged 14.7 PPG and 9.1 RPG while playing with a sprained MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) on his left knee and torn cartilage on his right knee which would require arthroscopic surgery. Although these injuries didn’t stop Griffin from dunking, becoming a YouTube sensation and being pegged as an NBA lottery pick, he decided to stay with Oklahoma for one more year to pursue the national championship.
As a sophomore with the Sooners, Griffin put up 22.7 PPG, 14.4 RPG, recorded 30 double-doubles in 35 games, and was named Big 12 Player of the Year. He would later be named AP Player of the Year and bring home the Wooden and Naismith award for leading Oklahoma all the way to the Sweet 16. After beating Syracuse, Griffin’s run at the NCAA title came to an end in the regional finals against UNC, who wound up winning it all in the National Championship Game which was held in Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan.
A lot has changed since Griffin scored 23 points and 16 rebounds against the Tar Heels, who beat the Sooners, 72-60 in their 2009 Elite Eight match-up. Although Griffin fell short in booking a ticket to Detroit that year, he’s there now.
Griffin wore Number 23 in Oklahoma and that jersey was retired by the university in honor of their homegrown hero. As of right now, the new Griffin jerseys are flying off shelves and have a three week wait-time for all online orders on the Detroit Pistons team store.
I may have to wait a while before I can proudly rock my favorite player’s jersey again. But, right now, I’m loving the sight of Blake Griffin wheeling and dealing in Motown.