Clippers: Is Blake Griffin ready to be L.A.’s biggest NBA star?
Clippers forward Blake Griffin is the best basketball player residing in Los Angeles, since Chris Paul is in Houston and his State Farm alter-ego Cliff Paul is presumably with him. This is at least until a young Lakers star like Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram takes the title and the stardom, that comes with being the king of basketball in L.A, from Griffin.
The Clippers forward inherits a title once owned by greats like Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and many others at various times. Being the king of basketball in the nation’s second-largest market is no easy task. It is a crown that brings both endorsements and media scrutiny. Even Chris Paul had his tenure with the title as an aging Kobe left a void atop Los Angeles basketball.
Blake Griffin is no stranger to the title. One could argue he was the focal point of the Clippers even when Paul was there. However, Griffin seemed to take a backseat to Paul over the past season and half. Ever since Griffin had the punching incident with the team trainer, his stardom seemed to be on the back burner. Griffin went from being in a Kia advertisement almost every commercial break, to being Paul’s sidekick in a matter of a year. We heard more about Griffin’s movie production efforts and injuries than anything else in the media.
Is Griffin ready to be a star again in the City of Angels? Can the Clippers forward handle the on and off court pressure that comes with being L.A.’s greatest NBA star?
Blake Griffin the Celebrity
Either way, Griffin’s newest advertisement makes sense when you consider he brings the big market and multi-ethnic appeal that is different than Leonard or Westbrook. The Clippers forward has to stay on the basketball court if he wants to stay in the conversation with the elite company of Leonard and Westbrook. Especially, since Griffin hasn’t played more than 80 games since the 2013-14 season when he finished third in MVP voting.
Nonetheless, Griffin could be dating reality star and influencer Kendall Jenner. They were recently seen together at a party and on a weekend getaway, per multiple sources. This isn’t a big deal since it is August and Griffin is no stranger to night clubs or vacations. Jenner has dated stars like A$AP Rocky while her sisters have a star-studded dating resume of athletes and successful people. Still, Griffin’s latest romance is evidence that his stardom is only getting bigger in Los Angeles.
Speaking of growth, Blake Griffin’s pocket book also got a lot fatter. He signed a five-year, $173 million contract that makes him one of the most paid and tenured players in Clippers history. Griffin’s leadership has got to make up for that bill. After he signed his new deal, the 28-year-old recently downplayed his leadership role as well as his role as the face of a franchise
“I think that’s something that you hear on the outside, but on the team, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a guy say, ‘Hey man, uhh… Whose team do you think this is?’ It’s just not how it is. So if it’s not like that on the inside, then why are so people so focused on it on the outside. That’s my opinion. And we’re not, so I’m looking forward to this next challenge with this new team.” Griffin said.
Even if Griffin isn’t ready to embrace the title of Clippers franchise player, he’s certainly never shied away from the stardom of Los Angeles. Remember when he dunked over a Kia? He has made an appearance in comedy clubs.
Rumors also have the 2009 No. 1 overall pick scheduled to appear in “White Men Can’t Jump,” as well as executive produce shows and movies. Can Blake Griffin maintain all that celebrity while keeping his status as L.A.’s best basketball player?
The answer is to be determined. No one knows how Griffin will respond as the Clippers best player until he is put in that situation. Griffin got glimpses at that limelight his rookie season before Paul came to Los Angeles and while Paul was out at various times during their tenure together.
Blake Griffin the Clippers Best Player
Overall, Blake Griffin’s career averages of 21.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists certainly warrant superstar notoriety. His funny personality earned him Hollywood endorsements and opportunities. He should expect plenty more commercials and celebrity girlfriend rumors as he is the unquestioned best player in Los Angeles while those young Lakers marinate.
However, Griffin’s ultimate legacy and longevity as L.A.’s basketball king will be determined by his postseason success. Magic, Kobe and Shaq were all larger-than-life celebrities like Griffin but they also found ways to win in Los Angeles. Blake’s celebrity status puts him in the conversation with those greats but his postseason failures do not. Griffin couldn’t make a Western Conference Finals with Chris Paul and now he will be expected to exceed his franchise’s limitations without CP3. Griffin will have to put the city on his back with the brand of the Lakers to fall back on. He is the Clippers’ homegrown talent who must prove that he is ready to inherit the crown as the best NBA player in L.A.
In 2017, Blake will have to prove he can handle all of that pressure by being Los Angeles’ biggest NBA star on and off the court. Griffin must balance his stardom with the pressures of being the Clippers unquestioned leader and best player. The forward must balance the pressures of getting the Clippers over the hump with the pressure of being L.A.’s NBA superstar. Griffin must balance his Hollywood brand with high basketball expectations. Not to mention, Griffin’s success can transcend the Clippers from the lovable-losing shadow of the Lakers too. Is Blake Griffin ready for the challenge of being L.A.’s best basketball player?