Blake Griffin recently underwent an arthroscopic knee surgery that will likely keep him out for the rest of the season. As a result, analysts speculating on his prospects moving forward. Most agree that, if Griffin can get healthy, he can still contribute in a big way for the Detroit Pistons.
Others question if Griffin has what it takes to make a positive impact in terms of his on-court skills and relationship with teammates. For the most part, Griffin has a great public image. Yet comments from former teammate Jared Dudley call into question what it’s really like to play with the NBA star.
Jared Dudley’s statement about Griffin
Dudley has earned a reputation as a valuable veteran presence in the NBA thanks to his ability to foster positive locker room chemistry. He and Griffin played together on the 2013-14 Los Angeles Clippers team. This team also included stars Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and JJ Reddick.
Despite the team’s star power, these Clippers failed to make it out to the third round of the playoffs. Dudley’s comments indicate that poor chemistry played a role in that failure. He explicitly called them a “toxic team” and suggested that Griffin simply didn’t have what it took to be a good teammate under all circumstances.
Dudley said the Clippers’ chemistry was great as long as they won. The moment the team faced adversity, everyone would start fighting and bickering. Although Dudley only spent one year with the Clippers, the experience still seems to bother him. As for Griffin, Dudley said he no longer talks to him or gets along with him, even on the court.
Griffin’s public image
Dudley’s comments surprise many NBA fans because Griffin has a reputation as fun, positive, and easy-going. He’s built this image through endorsements, sponsorship deals, and a second career as an amateur comedian — a fact that’s endeared him to many fans.
The only real flaw for Griffin’s public image came in February 2016, when he was still on the Clippers roster. At the time, he was out of the lineup rehabbing a torn quad. While at dinner one night in Toronto, Griffin engaged in some good-natured teasing with a friend, who happened to be the Clippers’ assistant equipment manager.
At some point, the exchange escalated, with Griffin becoming increasingly agitated. He then followed the man outside and punched him repeatedly in the face. In the process, Griffin managed to break his own hand.
Griffin’s team chemistry
Griffin’s Clippers teams were always dogged by rumors of chemistry problems. Yet team members were quick to point out that bad chemistry was not an issue. For instance, during the Clipper’s 2016 season, then-point guard Chris Paul stated that his chemistry with Griffin was “better now than ever.”
It’s not like those Clippers teams never got together. Griffin seemed to bond with his teammates, particularly off the court. For instance, a number of Clippers participated in a charity flag football game. Following the 2014 season, Griffin vacationed in Croatia with teammates Jordan, Reggie Bullock, and Matt Barnes.
Yet more stories emerged about Griffin’s chemistry issues after his surprising trade to the Pistons in January 2018. Even Clippers owner Steve Ballmer conceded that “chemistry issues” were one of the biggest factors in the team’s decision to part with Griffin.
Whether Griffin managed to bond more effectively with his Detroit teammates, it doesn’t look like he’ll make much more of an on-court contribution this season.
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