“I've experienced things like that almost since high school,” Griffin said. “As a bigger guy, you kind of get fouled a lot, fouled harder. It's something my dad always taught me and told me. Just to respond with how you play because you don't want to put your team in a bad situation by getting kicked out of a game or anything like that.”
That's what Griffin remembers thinking way back in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament, when a player from Morgan State flipped him over his back and sent Griffin crashing hard to the court.
Once again, Griffin got up and walked away.
“That was a situation where I really didn't want to do anything because obviously the tournament means everything,” Griffin said. “So nothing anybody could have done at that point (was going to matter). I was not going to put myself or my team in that situation.”
Griffin conceded that the roughhousing can be frustrating at times. But he said he has a pretty good read on when opponents might be crossing the line.
“There's moments when you're definitely close to snapping. But I haven't gotten to that point yet,” he said. “When I feel like someone's trying to hurt me, physically hurt me, that's the point where you have to stand up for yourself.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers voiced appreciation for how Griffin handles himself.
“To me, that's the toughest guy you can be,” Rivers said. “Gandhi and Martin Luther King, those guys were tough. They took the hits and kept preaching. I think that's Blake. He knows he's athletic. The bigger guys can't match his athleticism so they're going to try to use their muscle. And he can't let it get to him, and he hasn't for the most part. He plays through it.”
Said Paul: “At the end of the day, he knows we want to win games.”
Griffin also knows the NBA is different today than it was when players like Barkley played. So while he hears the suggestions of Barkley and others, Griffin chooses to handle each situation as he sees fit.
“You could punch somebody in the face and they'd just get a technical and you'd just keep on playing,” Griffin said of the old NBA. “I completely understand what they're saying, and I appreciate the words of advice. But it's one of those things where I'm trying to deal with it on my own terms.”