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Blake Griffin says teams are allowed to be more physical with him than with others

Mar 3, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

Blake Griffin had a tough outing against the Suns on Friday, and had to earn every single one of his 17 points and seven rebounds. Those numbers had little impact on the game, however, and his 4-of-14 shooting through three quarters were a true indication of just how much of a struggle it was for him on this night offensively.

Griffin’s issues can be attributed (at least in part) to the defensive game plan the Suns put together, along with the effort of Channing Frye, who made sure to stay between Griffin and the rim all night long while bothering him with his 6’11” frame.

Defensive ability aside, Frye’s physicality might have bothered Griffin even more — not because Griffin can’t handle it, of course. But mainly, because at many times, what Frye was doing appeared to be excessive, and deserving of a whistle from the officials.

From the first possession on, the physicality was noticeable. Put simply, Frye was allowed to push, grab, and hold Griffin more than what is normally considered to be acceptable. Now, the officiating crew was largely lax with the whistles on both sides all game long, but the fact remains that the Suns slowed Griffin by basically checking him when he got close to the rim, pushing him out when he tried to gain low block position, and making sure that contact was made whenever a shot was attempted.

Frye played over 35 minutes, and picked up just four personal fouls; Griffin shot just five free throws, and one of those came just before the final buzzer sounded. On one occasion, Frye literally grabbed Griffin around the neck from behind to stop him from shooting after he had established deep inside position.

No flagrant foul was called; apparently, it was just a run-of-the-mill foul. Two free throws were given, but no apologies.

This is one way to slow Blake Griffin and the Clippers, but it requires the complicity of the referees — which Friday night’s crew seemed more than happy to provide. It seems, though, as if this is becoming the norm around the league. Griffin is such a physical presence that referees are having trouble officiating him properly — or, at the very least, they are letting defenders regularly get away with murder to try to even Griffin’s genetic advantage.

And Griffin has noticed.

“Yeah, for sure,” was Griffin’s nodding response, when I asked him if teams were being allowed to play a little extra-physical against him defensively. “For sure. Guys are allowed to really bang against me, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

It obviously worked Friday in Phoenix. Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro didn’t seem to think it was an issue at all, and intimated that Blake (and the rest of the Clippers’ front line) preferred the physical way.

“Nah, Blake likes that,” he said. “They’re going to take the punishment more than Blake. He likes the physical contact, and with Kenyon, Reggie, and DJ up front that’s fine for us.”

Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, and DeAndre Jordan are all fine, physical, front-line players. But none are relied upon offensively as much as Griffin is, so the physicality badge that Del Negro seems to want his team to wear with honor really only affects Griffin on that end of the floor.

Besides, Griffin said, Del Negro is only partially correct. Blake only likes the physical play up to a certain point.

“Yeah, I mean, I like physical play, but sometimes it’s a little more than others,” he said. “And sometimes it goes from being physical to really kind of doing more damage than just bumping and stuff like that. But that’s on me, I’ve still got to play through that — everybody gets bumped, everybody gets fouled. I’ve got to do a better job of finishing plays and making shots.”

Griffin isn’t making any excuses, so we won’t either. But it’s clear that he feels he’s treated differently than others when it comes to the way teams are allowed to defend him physically. He may just have a point.

  1. Justin - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    They did the same thing the night before against Kevin Love. Love had to get a new jersey because the one he was wearing got ripped from so much contact. No joke. In that game Love had 6 FTs and Channing had only 4 personal fouls. I was more annoyed when Frye would set the screen on Rubio he would shoulder him every time. Nothing ever called.

  2. cakemixa - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    You mean to tell me guys get more physical with you because you try to make SC Top 10 every day? You don’t say!

  3. acdc363 - Mar 3, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    This is why KG punched him in the balls last year! He couldn’t handle the heat!

    • goforthanddie - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      No, that’s all KG knows how to do.

  4. ezmagic - Mar 3, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Don’t like it do you Blake? Go talk with Dwight, he gets fouled 90% of the time but the refs let it go most of the time. It’s BS cause when queen James, wade or Kobe get breathed on its a foul. The bigger and better you are, you’re going to get screwed. Good luck with that Blake lol

  5. mytthor - Mar 3, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    All great bigs deal with this. Shaq was famous for his “I’m going to have to start protecting myself” rants. Comes with the territory, Blake. Take it as a compliment.

  6. david8726 - Mar 3, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Welcome to the world of being a superstar NBA big man, where everyone is allowed to push, slap, and karate chop you without getting called for a foul.

    Shaq dealt with this in the past. Dwight Howard has been dealing with it. And now Blake is too.

    The refs have a hard time calling every foul that actually happens to great big men. That’s because the great big men are so strong that it doesn’t even look like they’re being fouled in a lot of cases as they power through contact. So the refs don’t notice it as much and miss some calls as a result. Plus, they are naturally biased when it’s a small guard trying to push a 7 footers VS the other way around.

  7. africanballer - Mar 3, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    What does he expect? he spends his entire time jumping over everyone. Only time players will stop roughing him up is when he actually starts playing basketball, as in relaxed, calm signature moves and so forth.

  8. sellahh - Mar 3, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Shaq, check. Dwight, check. Blake, not so much, he’s a flopper. Did I mention my hopes for him to get injured?

  9. phx1311 - Mar 3, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    oh boo who blake is just mad he couldn’t dunk last night because frye locked that ass down

    • cpaulii - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:43 AM

      he look really bad against frye last night. he was body bumping him all night. and Blake kept missing..

  10. AJRisher77 - Mar 3, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Why wouldn’t teams play physical against him, they wouldn’t play so rough if he could hit his free throws consistently.

  11. blakegriffin32 - Mar 3, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    And here comes sellahh. The complete scum of the earth.

    • sellahh - Mar 3, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      Blakegriffin32. Wow, how old exactly are you? Mentally, it’s 15 tops.
      Live a happy life just please don’t spread your crippled genes further, thanks in advance kiddo.

  12. vikingsinla - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    I didn’t think my opinion of him as the league’s biggest prima donna could have deepened, but it just has.

    Sorry, toolbox, nobody is going to get out of your way to let you get your ESPN-mandated dunk attempts, especially since you can’t hurt anyone from the free throws. Sounds like you need a few more flagrants before you’ll clue up.

    • sellahh - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:58 PM

      Sir, how do you feel about travelling to Holland so we can have a marriage? At least we won’t have to put up with those idiots. Blake is a primadonna, period.

  13. bravecapeproductions - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    waaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! BG is a DIRTY player. Welcome to the NBA! Show some balls. At least Pretend that you can take some of what Kobe takes.

  14. opshuns - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Basketball in general has gotten too physical. Umps should let them play but all this grabbing and pushing needs to be eliminated.

    • theonlysaneblazerfan - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:19 AM

      Umps? Why is someone who doesn’t know refs from umps bothering to post on here? Basketball has gotten much, much, much less physical in the last 20 years pal.

  15. md23rewlz - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    NBA big men get roughed up more than perimeter guys. Water is wet. This is like one of those high school SAT analogies, common denominator being “Obvious things.” What does Griffin expect? He’s an NBA center/power forward. He’s going to get hit more than other guys without always getting a call. Welcome to the rest of your career, Blake. Even primarily jump shooting big men like Nowitzki get hit a lot. If you’re going to bang down low, you’re going to have teams beating on you. He should think of it this way: If a foul’s not called, it means that the world doesn’t have to go through the excruciatingly painful to watch Blake Griffin Free Throw Shooting Experience. Though I suppose you could figure out a fun drinking game based on his variety of misses. Airball obviously being “down the bottle of Jack.”

  16. mtheparrothead - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Yes if there’s one thing the MBA is known for these days it’s being too physical. Somewhere Dennis rodman is laughing his arse off

  17. justheb - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Wow, I didn’t realize I had accidentally gone to a Clippers fan site with such a homer article.

    Simply put, bigs bang more than guards and the rules for officiating are MUCH different between the two…as others have already mentioned, this has been part of the game for a very long time and this is absolutely nothing new.

    While All-Star scorers start to get more phantom calls as they get older, dominant bigs get the exact opposite treatment and refs allow others to beat on them to even out the playing field for everybody else on the court.

  18. lunasceiling - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Aw, c’mon Blake! Of course people are going to body you up. You’re a take-it-to-the-hole player who shoots a lousy free throw percentage. Any defender who wasn’t getting seriously physical with you woudl be looking at a PO’d coach and some time riding the pines.

    And while you’re getting to be a superstar, don’t expect that magical superstar treatment from the refs that the superstar smalls get. You’re a big…they’re expected to sack up and deal with it. People pound the hell out of Dwight Howard all the time, and he doesn’t get a lot of whistles. Do what he does: pound back.

  19. theonlysaneblazerfan - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    This is directly attributable to the facts that A. Griffin is a shameless flopper, and B. He complains to and/or mean mugs the refs after every single call/non call. Of course they’re not showing him any love. The refs are sick of his crap and I would be too if I were in their place.

  20. nauhurdler - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Grow a sac Blake

  21. raidmagic - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Dwight Howard has been getting beaten his whole career and while he usually leads the leagueor is close in FT attempts there are still tons of no calls. On top of that the amount of times he is hit in the head and neck without flagrants being called is just silly.

    Deal with it.

  22. sellahh - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    Wow, ok, so I didn’t expect so much positive (or is negative?) feedback towards our primadonna Griffin. No one has whined as much as he does with being as floppy as he is, simple as it is. He can’t even overpower his enemies, he can’t fake out his opponents and he doesn’t even possess a single signature move unless you consider jumping over ur opp one (yeah, talk about shaq, griffin is light years away from that). Go learn some basketball or stop dropping yourself on every single play. Thanks.

    • bbgraf08 - Mar 4, 2012 at 8:21 AM

      You vastly underrate Griffin’s game. He does flop quite a bit and complains all the time, but, is still a good/potentially great player. I don’t understand your strange dislike for him.

      Also, wishing an injury on someone, then claiming another poster has a low mental capacity???

  23. losangelasbasketball - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    shut up and ball…the contact will come every time… play through it and get your “and-ones” or go play in the d-league….

  24. geo91 - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Be a man.

  25. blakegriffin32 - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    I’ve seen sellahh post before, thats why I said what I did. He wishes injuries upon people and is happy when players get hurt, especially if it’s career ending. He sounds like a good person, huh?

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