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OKC Thunder: Blake Griffin is back to his old tricks

The Los Angeles Clippers forward already has gotten into multiple mild altercations with Thunder players that have threatened to turn a series that should be an offensive shootout into a slugfest and a beloved hometown kid into a villain.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 8, 2014

LOS ANGELES — You knew it was coming.

It was only a matter of time.

It took just two games to take center stage in this Western Conference semifinals.

Blake Griffin is back to his old tricks, mucking up games with annoying antics that have little to do with basketball. His exploits thus far against the Thunder have been more effective than his play.

The Los Angeles Clippers forward already has gotten into multiple mild altercations with Thunder players that have threatened to turn a series that should be an offensive shootout into a slugfest and a beloved hometown kid into a villain.

Seven technical fouls have been issued through two games, and Griffin, despite being at the center of several confrontations, has walked away each time smiling, scot-free.

As the Thunder prepares for Game 3 against the Clippers on Friday night, OKC is getting a sampling of how Griffin gets the best of opponents in a different way.

In Game 1, Griffin suckered Serge Ibaka into a technical foul when he snared Ibaka’s foot while lying on his backside. After taking exception to Griffin’s subtle but strategic ploy, Ibaka attempted to separate his foot by kicking it away from Griffin’s ankles. The nearby official, of course, didn’t catch Griffin intentionally bring his feet together to trap Ibaka. But he did see Ibaka angrily kick his foot away, an action that resulted in a technical foul.

“I was just laying on the ground, and he just kind of kicked me,” Griffin sheepishly explained when asked about the incident after the game.

Griffin tried to conceal a guilty smile. Too late. He was busted.

It’s calculated run-ins such as these that prevent Griffin from becoming a full-blown league darling. His popular Kia commercials might endear him to casual fans, but the most ardent observers see him for something else, a player who baits opponents into reactionary actions while pretending to be oblivious to why he’s a target once the referee turns his attention to the situation.

It’s a strategy that has tainted Griffin’s remarkable basketball ability in NBA circles and turned him into one of the most loathed players in the league.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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