NBA Top 10 Dunkers: #1- Blake Griffin
What is posterization? In basketball, when a player dunks on you so hard that you end up looking like a prop for his dunk, and the pictures spawns multiple copies, that is a poster. Blake Griffin is the poster child of the NBA. In case there’s any doubt about the poster thing, here are a few of Blake’s trademark posters:
“I told him, you know there are guys in the NBA who are at the top. But I tell them there is a storm coming from Oklahoma, and they don’t know it yet.” said the Trainer from Hell, Frank Matrisciano to Blake Griffin.
Blake Griffin is a living urban legend. Once upon a time Blake Griffin was in the Dunk Contest, and the video of his dunk became a car commercial.
That happened for real.
“I love negative motivation. I love it when people say I can’t do this or I can’t do that. I love that. I almost need that. Friends send me articles and I don’t want to read the positive ones. I want to read the ones that say I can’t do something.”
- Blake Griffin
Once upon a time Griffin soared for the Dunk of the Year on Pau Gasol in a game. Then he posterized Gasol for Dunk of the Year once again in the same game.
“In high school I was supposed to be just a big guy who took advantage of smaller players. People predicted I wouldn’t be successful in college because I supposedly wasn’t really a basketball player, just athletic. I came into the NBA and I wasn’t supposed to be able to jump over athletic players my own size.”
- Blake Griffin
In November 2011, Blake Griffin played versus the Knicks, and almost simultaneously declared war against Russia and Italy.
“I’ve been working real hard on my outside shot. Then I hear people say, ‘I didn’t know he could shoot. I didn’t know he could dribble. I didn’t know he could pass.’ These so-called experts always find something negative in young players’ games.”
- Blake Griffin
Once upon a time, Griffin embarrassed his opponent so bad that his opposition’s teammate started giggling like a baby.
Another time he dunked on a guy so bad, the opponent’s teammate gave him a nod.
“What they miss, what they can’t see, what they can’t measure is what’s in a person’s mind, what’s in his core, what induces him to work hard, to be a better player. Nobody knows that so how can you make judgments on kids? That bothers me so much. That’s what drives me.”
Enough quotes by Griffin. Blake Griffin’s favourite quote is one he has tweaked from a quote by Henry Ford:
“The competitor to be feared the most is the one who never worries about others at all and goes on making himself better all the time.”
There is no other player in the league who strikes a more fearsome sight with the ball within 6 feet of the basket. And when he is running on turbo speed on a fast break, the sight is even more fearsome. Almost as if fate decided to see how far it can punish defenders, Blake Griffin actually initiates fast breaks by himself by taking rebounds, and is more than capable of dribbling all the way coast to coast, unleashing crossovers along the way, and then he just soars as high as he can and finishes the play in ways which are added spice to by hapless defenders who attempt to stand in his way.
Imagine nature making a shark amphibious, giving it wings, and a laser gun, and bear claws. Its really not fair that one man jumps that high to corral a rebound. The same 6″9 man zig zags and dribbles down the length of the court and finishes the play.
Once upon a time there was a grumpy troll named Serge Ibaka whose scowl struck terror in one and all. Then he met Blake Griffin:
The hardest steel is forged in the hottest fire. Blake did not have it easy. His first season, his rookie year, Griffin injured his knee in preseason and had to miss the entire season. Watch from the sidelines as his team struggled night in and night out without him.
As if it wasn’t bad enough having to miss out on his first season in the league, Blake Griffin had to return to a team which was unanimously the single most cursed franchise in sports history. Some may argue that Cleveland could give it a run for the money in that department, but there was no other team in the NBA which was a bigger butt of jokes than the Los Angles Clippers.
And all Blake heard all year was that his injury further cemented the curse of the Clippers. Provided proof that the Clippers are cursed forever. Imagine being anointed the number one pick, the hope of a franchise, and then spending the entire year quietly festering on the sidelines. Being injured is all the more difficult for those who prize their physical fitness over all else. The injury feels undeserved. It ought to have happened to someone who was less fastidious about his fitness.
“I’d focus on the process of coming back, but I heard what people said, that I ‘was a bust, the Clippers messed up again. The guy can’t play.’ I heard it and couldn’t do anything about it. Nobody cares what you’re going through. Now those same people aren’t saying anything.”
- Blake Griffin
Every single dunk that Blake throws down, all that rage is bubbling over and is slammed down hard down the throat of the ring.
A dunk is the most efficient way to finish a play. No dilly dallying about. No smooth swish of the net. No foreplay. Just business, straight up and flush it down. Efficiency in basketball was something ingrained in Blake Griffin as a kid, from his father:
“We’d sit and watch games on TV but it wasn’t like a father and a son just talking. You know, ‘Whoa, did you see that play or that move!’ It was, ‘Did you see what he did to get his teammate open?’ Or, ‘Did you seen how he got open?’ My father taught me how to become multi-dimensional, to be more than just a scorer, rebounder and passer. He taught me how to make teammates better.”
“I worked from the time I was about 6,” Blake said. His father needed extra money, and Blake and his brother were the extra hands who helped him.
“It brings back horrible memories.”
Looking back on it, Blake said: “I’m glad to have done it. I saw other kids get whatever they wanted in high school from their parents and never appreciate it. I have that experience. I had a responsibility to help my family. But, no question about it, I had no choice.”
Today, the defenders whose job it is to stand in the way of Griffin have no choice either. It’s either foul him real hard, in which case he will probably finish the play anyway, or try to block the shot and end up on a poster.
NBA rookies are assessed physically before being drafted, but they are also tested psychologically. Griffin was assessed as ‘compulsive’. He said about that assessment:
“I guess it’s not surprising. I’ve been called a perfectionist. But it’s weird, I don’t see myself as a perfectionist. But now that it has been brought to my attention, some friends see me doing something. Like, I’ll straighten the blanket if I see the ends don’t match up. I’m not OCD or anything like that! It probably comes from hearing my dad always say, ‘If you’re going to do it, do it right.’ As in, do it the perfect way, I guess. I really wasn’t like that as a kid. I’d clean my room when my mom asked, but I’d kick things under the bed.”
Of all the players deserving of a killer nickname, Blake is the one who deserves one the most and still doesn’t have one. Shaq, the great nickname bestower, tried to give him one too, but nothing stuck. Maybe because his real name is Griffin, half lion and half eagle. That pretty much sums his attributes as a dunker.
Every time he looks at the rim, his first thought is always the same. Take one step towards it, and soar like an eagle. If there’s a defender in the way, Griffin’s eyes steel and light up at the potential poster coming up.
It has been scientifically shown that the following dunk wouldn’t have been half as impressive if Griffin didn’t have Ibaka to challenge him. The contact allowed Griffin to extend his hangtime in the air by a few milliseconds and made it seem like the two bodies had collided with mutual agreement to produce a near physics defying dunk:
Ok, I was kidding about that one. Remember the aforementioned trainer from hell? Here’s how he trained Blake:
And the above reasons are why Blake Griffin is ranked as the Number 1 dunker on our list.
Check out the others in our list of the Top 10 dunkers in the NBA: