Clippers' Blake Griffin shows restraint on the court

Former OU and OCS standout is the target of some physicality as main man for the Los Angeles Clippers. But he hasn't fought back.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 22, 2014

Chauncey Billups called him too nice.

Charles Barkley said he wasn't tough.

Matt Barnes got tossed from a game against the Thunder earlier this season for sticking up for him — and then got fined for the manner in which he announced he's tired of fighting his teammate's fights.

Everyone these days has an opinion on Blake Griffin.

The former OU and OCS star leads his Los Angeles Clippers into Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Thunder on Sunday playing the best ball of his career. He's averaging 28.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.2 steals in the New Year.

But basketball purists want more.

They want him to hit back.

They want Griffin to respond to overly physical play by retaliating not with poise and poster dunks, but perhaps with message-sending punches.

“You've got to draw a line in the sand,” said TNT analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer Barkley early this season, in one of his many passionate monologues on the matter. “Say, ‘Hey, listen, I'm going to start hitting y'all back.'

“The toughest guy on your team can't be 5-3,” Barkley continued, jokingly referring to 6-foot Clippers point guard Chris Paul. “You got to stop these guys from picking on you.”

This season alone, Griffin has gotten into altercations with Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, Warriors Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green, Indiana's David West and Miami's Mario Chalmers, among others.

Most times, Griffin is on the receiving end of the punishment.

Rarely does he dish it back.

Billups, a former teammate of Griffin's on the Clippers, became one of many to express his desire to see Griffin retaliate.

“I don't agree that Blake Griffin is soft,” Billups said while appearing on “First Take” last June. “But what I will say about Blake is that he's maybe too nice of a guy. Because there's been times in games where people take shots at Blake and I tell him if that's me, you're going to have to take this two- or three-game suspension, and I'm going to punish somebody.

“That's just how I'm built. Blake is not really built like that. He's … too soft of a guy inside for him to be like, ‘All right, I'm just going to hurt somebody.' He just won't do it. I wish he would, and I think that people would look at him a lot different if he did that. But he's just not that kind of person.”

Griffin explains that the restraint he shows stems from an early lesson his father, Tommy Griffin, taught him.

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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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