Apr 11, 2012, 1:15 PM EDT
Not everyone loves Blake Griffin anymore.
They did last year, when he burst on the scene and was throwing down monster dunks for an entertaining but ultimately harmless Clippers team. Then he went during the lockout and interned at Funny or Die and you realized the guy has a great sense of humor.
But this year the Clippers are a threat and Griffin is both acting and being perceived differently. He plays what ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz accurately described as a “confrontational” style of basketball — he is very physical, he complains about every call, he talks a lot of smack, he glares and stalks around the court. He tries to intimidate. And of course, he dunks on people.
It’s getting under some opponents skin, and some fans have started to grow disenfranchised with him.
“What’s not to like about him?” he said. “He’s fun. He’s funny. He laughs, jokes, smiles. He’s a great guy off the court….
“Shoot, everybody loves him,” Paul said, getting fired up as he talked. “Shoot, don’t nobody love him more than my son. I don’t know nobody that don’t like Blake.”
“Except for the guys he dunks on.”
It’s more than that. Griffin does at time come off as a bully at times, and on a team that is up and coming it rubs people wrong. Like all bullies, a day is coming when someone will stand up to him on the court.
But Griffin is like most athletes in that the guy they are on the court and off are two different guys. Off the court, Griffin is no doubt a good guy. Griffin the guy with the dry sense of humor and the funny commercials is a guy we want to see more of.
But the universal, unconditional love for Griffin is gone. No matter what Chris Paul sees.
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