Blake Griffin’s first game at the Los Angeles Clippers since his blockbuster trade to the Detroit Pistons last season got off to an icy start before the game even started.
While Griffin was finishing his pregame routine, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer patiently waited on the sideline to offer a warm “welcome back” to the longtime face of his franchise. Except Griffin sprinted off the court the moment Ballmer took a step toward him.
Since it’s tough to completely assign a narrative that Griffin was trying to disrespect his former boss, let’s instead just say that the current Piston is clearly locked in for his return to the Clippers’ court. It’s possible that Griffin didn’t even notice Ballmer standing on the sideline.
Although it seems unlikely. It’s become commonplace for NBA teams to honor visiting longtime players. And Griffin was so embedded in Clippers culture — and Hollywood culture — that a warm return was inevitable. He had to know Clippers staff and fans alike would be excited to see him.
Following the contest, Griffin explained it has always been part of his routine to run straight to the locker room after pregame warmups. When asked whether he would shake Ballmer’s hand had the moment been different, Griffin said he wouldn’t answer hypothetical questions. He also said portraying it otherwise was “kinda bulls- – -.”
The power forward has already been playing at his best to start the season (25 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game). Griffin’s hyper-focused pregame led to dominance on the court. Griffin exploded for 44 points and eight rebounds against his former team during a 109-104 Pistons win.
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