<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Los Angeles Clippers Media Day

Blake Griffin tells more creepy Donald Sterling stories, writes Steve Ballmer just wants to win


Any time someone tells a Donald Sterling story, you can’t help but think “Sterling is just creepy.” In that old guy hanging around the Forever 21 store in the mall kind of way. Then feel like you need to go take a shower.

While the Clippers in unison have said through training camp they are just trying to turn the page on their Sterling past and move forward with new team owner Steve Ballmer, the team’s brightest star Blake Griffin is still telling more creepy Sterling stories.

Griffin is somehow instantly a Senior Editor of The Players’ Tribune, one of Derek Jeter’s post-baseball projects, a platform allowing athletes to tell their own stories unfiltered (and with the spin they want). (Senior editor? I seriously doubt how Griffin spends his days and how I spend mine are at all similar despite the titles.)

In this new piece (well worth your time to read), Griffin is relatively unfiltered about Sterling, and is straight forward about how this was a distraction for the team last postseason. The stories start with the first time Griffin met Sterling, at the annual white party Sterling threw at his Malibu home.

Donald Sterling literally introduced me to everyone. Here’s how he did it, every single time, to every single group of people, while holding on to my hand:

“Everyone, have you met our newest star? This is Blake! He was the number one pick in the entire NBA draft. Number one! Blake, where are you from?”

Then I’d say I was from Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma! And tell these people what you think about LA.”

Then I’d say it was pretty cool.

“And what about the women in LA, Blake?”

It was the same conversation with every group of people. When he would start having a one-on-one conversation with someone, I’d try to slip away, and he’d reach back and paw my hand without even breaking eye contact with the person. Whenever he didn’t have anything left to say, he just turned around and walked us over to the next group.

Griffin goes into how Sterling used to sit courtside and heckle Baron Davis (by the way Griffin, that story did get covered). Griffin goes into how the team decided to deal with all of this through the playoffs last season.

Eventually Griffin gets to his new boss Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO who spent $2 billion on the team to buy it away from the Sterling Trust. He is excited because here is an owner willing to spend to win — not just on the players but on the other things that go with a first-class organization, such as new training equipment.

At a pep rally for season ticket holders not long after he bought the team, Ballmer was his screaming, crazy self on the stage. People who had seen his schtick at Microsoft shook their heads knowingly. Others of us found it funny.

Griffin says the players ate it up.

All the players thought it was awesome. Personally, I love that kind of crazy. Ballmer wants to win no matter the cost. Donald Sterling didn’t care if we won — at least if it meant he had to spend money….

It’s little bit ironic to me that the media has tried to turn Ballmer into a meme when they turned a blind eye to Sterling for years. Steve is a good dude. He’s like a cool dad who gives you candy. Donald was like a weird uncle.

Griffin and the rest of the Clippers are glad he’s gone. Can’t blame them one bit.

Quincy Acy starting for Knicks as power forward? Looks like it’s happening.

New York Knicks Media Day

The Knicks have Amare Stoudemire, but he is still on a minutes restriction and really hasn’t been the most impressive Knick player this preseason.

The Knicks have Andrea Bargnani, but he has a strained hamstring. Plus, he’s Andrea Bargnani.

That opened the door for Quincy Acy and he — and his enormous beard — pushed through it, being one of the most energetic and defensive-minded Knicks in the preseason. Acy has started the past three Knicks preseason games and appears to have earned himself the starting spot when the season tips off in less than two weeks, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

“No I didn’t plan on coming here to start,’’ Acy told The Post with a chuckle. “I planned on coming here and playing hard to earn minutes. I guess I impressed enough with my defense to earn a spot. I don’t know what coach got going if I’m starting or coming off the bench or not playing, but I’ll be happy.’’

“I think that separates myself — just high energy,’’ Acy said. “Not a lot of guys in the league do the things I do. I take pride in it and take pride in my defense and take some pride in being a great overall teammate.’’

To quote a line I got from David Thorpe: Energy is a skill.

That has been the key — this feels a lot like how Kenneth Faried ended up a starter and key piece for Team USA at the World Cup. Injuries and defections opened the door for Faried, but his energy and rebounding turned out to be just what that team needed for glue and some inspiration.

Acy is bringing that to the Knicks this preseason — he goes all out every second he’s on the court. It’s not exactly something the Knicks have been known for in recent years. The Knicks traded for Acy this summer in a deal that was really more about dumping Wayne Ellington’s contract. Acy was seen as a slightly more efficient scorer than Jeremy Tyler plus a guy who busts it every time on the court.

But Acy has earned his way into the starting lineup (with Jose Calderon, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Samuel Dalembert). Personally I think Bargnani is better coming off the bench (insert your own joke here about coming off the bench in Italy next season if you want). It will be a matchup thing, at times Bargnani and Stoudemire will be a better fit.

Energy always fits, however. That’s what Acy can bring — and the Knicks fans will appreciate it.

How did LeBron James forgive Dan Gilbert? “I’m a man. Men, we all make mistakes.”

LeBron James

LeBron James went away to Miami and grew up.

In his letter announcing his return to Cleveland, LeBron even compared his time in Miami to going away to college. We all grow up the first time we move out of our family home — nobody is doing our laundry, we have to set our own schedules, cook (or buy) our own food, you have to take on responsibilities. That was Miami for LeBron, learning what it takes to win on the court, growing up off it.

That maturity allowed him to forgive Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert’s comic sans letter and rant that called LeBron a traitor.

LeBron said some very mature things pre-game in Cincinnati Wednesday night, before he went out and pretty much scored at will against what’s left of the Pacers. Here are the quotes, via Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

“How did I forgive? I’m a man,” James said. “Men, we all make mistakes….

“As a man, if you got a problem with somebody, you sit down face to face and you talk to them eye to eye. And you hash it out and move on,” James said. “So, I think a lot of things that go on in life or in sports with people kind of holding grudges is because they’re afraid to actually take a step forward. It’s a fine line between pride and progress, and I’m on the progress side. I’m not on the pride side.”

Powerful words.

The world would be a much better place if more people — and governments — just tried to act that way.

Of course, LeBron’s line of work means his words will not ultimately define his legacy. His play, the titles he likely brings in the coming years to Cleveland, that will be what gets discussed.

Or discussed first. But eventually his legacy off the court will come up too, and these words will be part of that. It’s not like he’s saying something that is going to instantly change society. He’s not. But really that’s not how society changes, rather it’s a million small steps by a million people. And LeBron has taken one of those steps.

LeBron James scored at will against Pacers (VIDEO)

LeBron James

Pacers coach Frank Vogel went into Wednesday’s exhibition game with no real good plan for defending LeBron James — everyone was going to get a shot.

Well… that didn’t work.

LeBron put up 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting and he did it pretty much any way he wanted — in the post, from three, running hook shots across the lane, attacking off the dribble from the wing, pretty much any and everything.

LeBron remains the best player on the planet. The Pacers, well, it’s going to be a rough season.

Wizards’ Glen Rice Jr. leaves game with ankle sprain, will miss time

Washington Wizards Media Day

The Wizards already lost their starting two guard and up-and-coming star Bradley Beal for the start of the season due to a broken wrist (he will be out at least six weeks).

That thrust second-year man Glen Rice Jr. into the starting lineup. Last season he played in just 11 games but he was the Las Vegas Summer League MVP and looked ready for a bigger role. He was looking pretty good in preseason, on Wednesday night in an exhibition against Maccabi Haifa he was 5-of-11 shooting for 11 points.

Until he had to leave the game in the third quarter with a sprained ankle.

There is no timeline yet for how long he’ll be out, there will be more tests Thursday, but after the game he had to leave on crutches and wearing a walking boot, reports J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.

The question is will he be ready for Oct. 29 when the Wizards open the season.

They need him. With Beal and Rice out the Wizards will likely give big minutes to Rasual Butler at the two. Martell Webster could play there some but he is coming off back surgery.

It’s been a rough preseason for the Wizards… or really just their shooting guards.