In the list of greatest Clippers of all time, Blake Griffin’s name can’t be far from the top. This decade of Clippers basketball owes a considerable amount of success to Griffin: he threw down high-flying dunks on the court for the Clippers; he helped reinvent the identity of the Clippers off the court; he even gave us the most recent iteration of our logo.
There’s an argument to be made even after he was playing for the opposing team, the Clippers owed something to Griffin. The trade that send him away laid the foundation each team we have had since, including the current “213” iteration of the Clips. And in a recent interview with Graham Bensinger, this exact trade was among the many topics that surfaced.
In the interview, Griffin said that though “[he] understands through a business point of view,” he was disappointed with how the situation went down, saying that he wished “they would have gone about it a different way....The respect of letting your agent know, so that hopefully both parties can work out a deal that they both want.”
It was interesting to hear our former franchise player talk about the behind the scenes of the Clippers front office, as awkward as the experience seemed to be. He tells it all, from the infamous mock jersey retirement ceremony the front office entertained as part of their extension pitch, to finding out the trade happened at the same time as the rest of us: from a Woj tweet while driving.
Griffin describes hearing about a potential move from his friend and calling his agent to confirm, who in turn couldn’t reach the Clippers front office, saying “He called me back and said, ‘that was weird, normally he answers my call every time.’” Griffin had to go into the facility for a lift that morning, so he called the front office as well. “No response, nothing in return like an hour and a half later,” he recalls.
Upon going upstairs to check with Lawrence Frank in person, Griffin first encountered Frank’s assistant, who had to retrieve Frank himself. “[And] we’re standing there, just awkward. Just a moment of awkwardness for, I don’t know, a good 20 seconds.” The meeting seemed to end amicably, with Frank promising that Griffin would be “the first call.” Soon after, however, Griffin, while driving home to pick up his kids, received the news of his trade from the aforementioned Woj tweet instead.
It certainly does illuminate a move that was, at that time, controversial. And it seems that Griffin, who has since orchestrated a business decision or two of his own, fully understands the harsh reality of the league. “I totally get it, from their standpoint, from a business standpoint, you want to move on from a guy. It’s normal,” Griffin says. “It’s not this thing that I’ll never speak to these people again.”
Suffice to say, it seems Frank has learned from this experience, with more recent trades having been completed more amicably (per Lou Will and Pat Bev). Even the best make mistakes, but the distinction is that they keep learning. And I, for one, am glad that, at least on the surface, both Griffin and the team seem to have moved on.