When Blake Griffin broke his hand punching a Clippers equipment manager in January, it raised plenty of questions about his commitment to the team. How could he so foolishly sideline himself during what could’ve been a special season?
But perhaps Griffin deserves a little more credit.
Griffin hurt his quad on Christmas (and was still sidelined when he punched Matias Testi). He eventually returned from the injuries and suspension – only to aggravate his quad Monday, ending his season.
Griffin knew, according to league sources, there was a strong possibility he would re-tear his left quadriceps tendon by playing in the playoffs.
Griffin could’ve and maybe should’ve undergone the procedure to fix the tendon immediately after suffering the injury on Christmas, according to league sources, but it would’ve ended his Clippers season because of a four- to six-month recovery.
Griffin’s decision in December also meant he was knowingly surrendering his chance of playing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, because he was told he would need the significant bone-marrow-injection procedure eventually. If he did it in December and used the NBA season to recover, he could be back for a summer with USA Basketball.
If this is true, Doc Rivers and Griffin’s teammates who knew should be praising Griffin’s sacrifice – publicly with their names attached. Why did this leak through anonymous sources? It might be unseemly for Griffin to disclose his own valor, but someone could do it on his behalf. I understand keeping this under wraps while Griffin is playing through the injury, but why not reveal it now that he’s done for the postseason?
Griffin still deserves blame for punching Testi and everything that came with it. The questions about whether his immaturity trumps his devotion to the Clippers aren’t off the table.
But there’s a bigger picture, and one act doesn’t define the man. Griffin is more than the guy who punched an equipment manager – and more than the guy who delayed surgery to help his team.
Does this complicated situation explain why none of Griffin’s teammates or coaches have publicly praised him?