I recently went to a Clippers game. Blake Griffin was finally healthy and back in the starting lineup, ready to challenge the Minesota Timberwolves. I got my usual seats, section 306 row 9, a.k.a nosebleeds. I got to the game at 6:30 pm, an hour before tip off, only to be one of the first ten thousand fans in attendance to receive a Danilo Gallinari bobble head. Not only did I make it in time for the bobble head, but, I treated myself to an order of nachos. As I waited for the game to start, a man in his 40’s wandered through section 306. After a few seconds of scouring our section, he approached me and asked if I would be interested in taking his tickets, which were in section 104. Mind you, he offered these tickets up for free, explaining his wife and him had to cancel their plans to attend the game. Now for any basketball fans out there, we all know there is a big difference in watching the game from the nosebleeds and watching it ten rows up. I couldn’t believe someone so graciously came up to the 300 level to offer up his tickets when he could have sold them online, scalped them, or just wasted the tickets. He was a season ticket holder, so wasting the tickets would have been no different than giving them away, in fact, it would have been less effort. But alas, he chose the selfless route, and made this woman here extremely happy. So thank you kind sir, whoever you are, wherever you may be.
As I watched the game from the 100’s, I was exposed to a side of Blake Griffin I had never really noticed. He’s slow and deliberate. Every decision he makes on the court seems so well thought out and executed extremely efficiently. He is a tank. The kind of basketball player that isn’t only a beast, but makes his team better. Over the years I’ve come to know the Clippers as Blake Griffin’s team. The name Blake Griffin and the Clippers have become synonymous for fans.
When I first heard the Clippers traded Blake to the Pistons, I immediately thought, wow, now I’m going to have to watch every Pistons game, not only to root for Blake, but because I couldn’t believe how the Clippers went about the trade. When I heard that Blake found out about his trade the same way I did, through twitter, I thought “shit, they did him so dirty.” How do you do that to a player who put your team on the map. A player who dedicated so many years taking you to the playoffs. A player who has dedicated his life to being a better basketball player for your team.
That’s when I realized how the business works. The teams in the league basically have these athletes in chains. They have to perform for you, if they don’t perform well they are benched. If they still don’t perform they are traded. Which makes sense, because that is your job. To play good basketball. But it only gets worse. When trade rumors start swirling most players don’t know what their fate will be. Blake Griffin had just a couple of days to pack his bags and uproot his whole life to another state. A colder state. I understand what some may say, well he’s getting paid $171 million over a 5 year period, you can’t really complain. Yes you can. When you’re asking a whole family to move to another state – you’re asking them to uproot their girlfriend/wife/partner and kids to a new state, new home, new schools, new weather, new friends and a whole new world.
After watching football for so many years and seeing how Colin Kapernick was blacklisted for silently protesting, I really hope we see some change in the way teams do business. A change where athelthes have more control over their own futures and are able to have opinions without fearing their fate will be that of the likes of Colin Kapernick.
Change starts slow. And we have already seen Lavar Ball make some big changes with the development of the Big Baller Brand and the JBA League. Most people think he’s an obnoxiously loud man, but all I see is a man who’s giving athletes their power back.
At the end of the day, you’ll be missed Blake. Here’s to hoping you find even more success in Detroit.