Blake Griffin says his game not about intimidation

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It looks intimidating.

When Blake Griffin flies in and dunks over Pau Gasol or Kendrick Perkins or Timofey Mozgov or any one of many of his victims, it looks intimidating. More than just the dunks, Griffin’s game plays to his physical strengths. He plays a power game.

But he says it’s not about intimidation.

“Intimidating, that’s not something I consciously go out and try to do,” Griffin told ProBasketballTalk. “As far as being physical, that’s just a part of my game. I don’t try really hard to be physical but it’s just a part of my game and I’m not going to shy away from it…

“I think it works to my advantage whenever it is a physical game because I feel more comfortable with contact and all that. It’s one of those that if it happens it happens, but I don’t go out seeking out contact and trying to hit guys hard.”

Griffin dishes out a physical game, but he takes it, too. The book on him is to push back, and a lot of teams do with hard fouls and physical play that are not called. It’s part of the NBA. He’s not backing down. Griffin said he is not sure there really is a lot of intimidation going on once you get to the NBA. Pretty much every guy there was the one doing the intimidating in high school, and the guys who back down tend not to make it this far.

“Not really, I really don’t think (there is intimidation in the NBA),” Griffin said. “A lot of these guys in the NBA are so talented you kind of have a mutual resect for guys and you know what guys can do and can’t do and you just try to play them the best you can.”

Griffin said right now he and the Clippers are trying to take care of their own business, to work on their defense, and not scoreboard watch as they head into the playoffs. They are in a battle for the Pacific Division crown with the Lakers — and the loser likely gets the red hot Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.

“It’s great to be able to play exactly who you want and be able to play at home, but it all means nothing if come out and didn’t play well,” Griffin said.

Griffin was speaking to PBT as part of a promotion with Subway, pointing out that during April people who stop in before 9 a.m. and buy any six-inch sandwich and the second one is free.

Griffin appears in a number of ads for Subway as well as other sponsors such as Kia. More and more, you are seeing Griffin’s personality — and dry sense of humor — shine through in those.

“When I first came in (to the league) I had never done anything like that,” Griffin said. “For me, it was tough to just open up and show some of (my personality). Now, doing more stuff, I have more opportunities, you open up to it. It’s a lot of fun. The more you do it the more comfortable you become.”

He’s comfortable being himself now. Both on and off the court. And that’s not supposed to be intimidating.

Chris Paul’s free agency decision becomes a documentary

Associated Press
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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Chris Paul had a new home in Los Angeles and the potential for a $200 million contract if he stayed with the Clippers.

He also had reason to doubt a championship would ever come there.

So sometime between walking off the floor after a Game 7 loss with the Clippers last spring and walking back onto it Tuesday night in a Houston Rockets uniform, Paul decided he needed to pack up his family and try for a title elsewhere.

“I just felt that it was time,” Paul said.

His free agency process and decision is the subject of a three-part documentary series titled “Chris Paul’s Chapter 3” that debuts Thursday on ESPN.

The first episode shows Paul’s frustration following the Clippers’ ouster against Utah in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs and his questioning the Clippers’ culture. He had helped them become a perennial playoff team since his arrival in 2011, but not one that ever seriously contended for a title,

“Somewhere, I don’t know when it was – I’m not a saint by any means, it could have a lot do to with me also – but we just weren’t having as much fun,” he said.

He talked with his family and business partners about possibilities with Boston and San Antonio – where he feared Gregg Popovich might only coach for a couple more years – and visited music mogul Jay-Z and Disney CEO Bob Iger for their advice. He began to view Houston as the best option and eventually accepted a trade in late June, agreeing to opt in for the final year of his contract and delaying free agency until next summer.

All that after he had bought a house in Los Angeles across the street from Clippers teammate Paul Pierce, moving his in-laws in last January.

“Truthfully, I didn’t think there was no way that Chris would leave the Clippers,” said Pierce, now retired and an ESPN analyst. “He really built up something special, you know, with getting the Clippers back to being legitimate, make the playoffs every year, (winning) 55 games. He just bought a new home like less than a year ago. He had a $200 million offer on the table. So that really shocked me that he would leave.”

Paul never planned for his first real foray into free agency to become public.

“When it all came together and we saw how it looked it was like, man this would be cool to tell the story of how it’s not just cut and dry, you just pick a team,” Paul said. “We showed the move and everything that goes into it.”

Paul laments having to always have the ball in his hands in Los Angeles – which won’t be a problem alongside James Harden in Houston. And he worries about having to move his two young children, eventually telling his son he can’t go do his job without him. And after they finally move, Hurricane Harvey devastates Houston, a focus of the second episode.

“We are constantly looking for opportunities to bring fans closer to athletes in order to better understand their experience. In this series, Chris Paul gives fans a truly unprecedented look at his free agent decision-making process and how he thinks about both his basketball career and his life off the court,” said Connor Schell, ESPN executive vice president of content.

All three episodes will be available on the ESPN App and on-demand beginning Friday. They will then air next Tuesday from 8-9:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN.

Paul said he learned a lot about the free agency process – but would love to avoid having to do it again next summer.

“In a perfect world you win a championship and there’s nothing to even talk about,” he said.

 

Bulls claim PG Kay Felder off waivers

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The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.

Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.

Enter Kay Felder.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.

Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.

Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)

For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.