When Draymond Green elbowed Blake Griffin in the mouth early in the third quarter of the Christmas evening battle between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, no one was really that surprised.
When Andrew Bogut got tangled up with Griffin later in the quarter by face-guarding the Clippers' forward on a shot attempt, then tugging on Griffin's sleeved jersey and rubbing his pointy elbows across Griffin's face, no one was really that surprised.
More on the Griffin situation
More on the Griffin situation
This is the life and times of Blake Griffin. A life that consists of getting continually disrespected by almost any player not wearing a Clippers jersey. A time where he just stares into the abyss and acts like nothing happened.
How did we get to this point? This is Blake Griffin, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Supposedly, he's one of the most popular players in the NBA among fans! He seems like a congenial fellow who deserves to be in a lot of commercials!
So, why do Blake's colleagues hate his guts? Our theories:
Blake Griffin will dunk on you and be in all of the commercials
There was a point a few years ago where Griffin was arguably the biggest name in basketball. Why? Because the man was stealing the souls of innocent bystanders by dunking on them with reckless abandon. With the 24-hour news cycle, social media and talk around the water cooler in full effect, those who ended up on Blake's posters probably grew tired of the Griffin adulation. (Pau Gasol, Kendrick Perkins and Timofey Mozgov are nodding their heads in approval).
Soon, Griffin was on all of the commercials. First it was Kia Motors (remember him slamming over a Kia in the dunk contest?), then it was GameFly, then it was Red Bull. The man was seemingly everywhere within a blink of the eye. Yes, the man was putting up 20-and-10's with relative ease, but was he deserving of so much so soon?
I don't know much about basketball, but two things I think I know: Players don't like being dunked on, and players don't like being constantly reminded about the time they got dunked on. Griffin has dunked on a lot of people, and those dunks have been replayed many times.
Griffin is keenly aware of what's going on, for better or worse
Here's the thing about the altercation between Green and Griffin from Wednesday: After the game, Green told reporters that it was actually Griffin instigating the shenanigans that took place between them.
Do we have any video proof of this? Not really, so maybe Draymond was just pulling Blake's card. But this wouldn't be the first time someone accused Blake of engaging in tomfoolery on the court. Remember when Mark Jackson said earlier this year that Blake was intentionally bumping into him and stepping on him while he inbounded the ball?
Or last year, when Festus Ezeli grabbed Griffin's arm as he blew by him on a dribble drive, and Griffin decided to turn the foul into an opportunity to perform a triple salchow like Brian Boitano? (I swear, he twisted and turned like Shawn Michaels did whenever he got thrown into the turnbuckle during WrestleMania).
And who could forget David Lee vs. Blake Griffin in "Stop Flopping!"
That's four separate incidents involving just Griffin and the Warriors! There are plenty of other altercations where Griffin is instigating something against other teams. From being accused of flopping to trying to play innocent, it's clear Griffin is no dummy. He's keenly aware of what's going on at all times, and while many can appreciate an instigator from time to time, it's easy to see how a superstar like Griffin could grow weary on the soul.
There's a perception that Griffin won't respond or retaliate
When Griffin gets whacked on the head with an aggressive foul, many fans are immediately expecting a fracas to break out. Of course, since Griffin is involved, we all know nothing is going to happen. Blake will give that death stare look into the cheap seats and just wait until the tomfoolery ends. Even his teammates know this.
Matt Barnes has come to Griffin's defense so many times that he's now fed up. He's not doing it anymore. That's his teammate, mind you. To hear a teammate publicly state that he'd be less willing to stand up for his fellow man raises eyebrows. That sounds like a man that doesn't fully trust Griffin when it comes to engaging in fisticuffs. Plus, those fines cost money.
Then, Charles Barkley called out Blake for not standing up for himself and had a radical solution. (Fast forward to the 3:20 mark.)
That's Barkley encouraging Griffin to put an end to it all by hitting first. Should Blake begin punching dudes right in the jaw at any sign of shenanigans? What about a hard foul to the dome?
Thing is, Griffin is not in any way shape or form a goon, and expecting him to react as such seems idiotic. While there is a part of me that wants to see him respond physically in any altercation, if it's not in him to respond that way, then he shouldn't. It reminds me of the story in Friday when Craig must confront Deebo, the bully who has consistently harassed his friends and family for years. When Craig decides that enough is enough, he initially pulls out a gun to handle Deebo, but his dad encourages otherwise, because that's not how real men handle their problems. (Plus, he didn't want his nephew to catch a charge).
Craig ends up fist-fighting Deebo and knocking him out, but that's not to say Griffin must do literally the same thing. By beating Deebo in a fight, Craig topped him in an area that mattered most to him. For Griffin, that means doing it on the scoreboard, because that's what matters most to his peers. Griffin is one of the most talented players in the league today, but he still plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, and that means, fair or unfair, he and his team fail to command respect. How do you fix that? The best way would be for Blake to help the Clippers advance beyond the second round of the playoffs. In doing so, Griffin has to play at a level that gets him back into the conversation among the best power forwards in the NBA.
Only then will players begrudgingly begin to respect him.
Happy Hour drink recommendation: Champagne. Because this is what you drink when you bring in the new year. Don't make this harder than what it is. Just don't order the lowest-grade champagne on the shelf because you'll feel bloated and have the desire to burp in your significant other's face at midnight. Burping at midnight is bad, kissing at midnight is good.
Have a phenomenal New Years celebration, everybody. 2013, it's been real. 2014, here we come. TGIF.