Blake Griffin: ‘Known racist’ Donald Sterling ‘was like a weird uncle’
When the scandal involving disgraced former Clippers owner Donald Sterling broke earlier this year, many likely were wondering what was going through the mind of Blake Griffin, the team’s biggest star and one of the best players in the NBA.
Well, Griffin unloaded Thursday with insights into that and a whole lot more in a blog post on "The Players’ Tribune," a website set up by recently retired New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter.
It’s a long and informative post that’s well worth a read, but here are five big takeaways:
1) Griffin opens with a painfully awkward — some might say creepy — anecdote about how Sterling introduced him at a party in 2009. Griffin says he was unable to escape Sterling’s grasp the whole time: "Donald Sterling had me by the hand. You know that thing elderly women do where they grab the top of your hand with just their fingers and lead you around? That’s what he was doing. … I was hoping to escape down the stairs, find one of my teammates and blend in with the rest of the crowd. I tried to pull my hand away. Nope."
2) Griffin explains that he researched "known racist" Sterling from the get-go: "When I knew the Clippers were drafting me, the first thing I did was type Donald Sterling’s name into Google. The first hit that came up was ‘Donald Sterling is a racist.’ I read an article on how he didn’t want minorities to live in his apartment buildings. My first thought was, ‘Wow this guy is really, really a racist … how is he an owner of an NBA team?’"
3) Griffin gives an example of Sterling’s well-known issues with former Clippers player Baron Davis: "As Baron is lining up [for free throws], Sterling started flapping his arms and yelled to no one in particular, ‘Why are you letting him shoot the free throw? He’s awful! He’s terrible! He’s the worst free throw shooter ever!’ Baron had been shooting like 87 percent that season. He was by far our best free throw shooter on the floor. I was standing at half court, right next to Sterling’s seats, watching this out of the corner of my eye, trying not to laugh. I looked at the guys on the other team, like, I cannot believe this is happening right now."
4) On how Griffin was "conflicted" when the audiotape emerged of Sterling making racist comments: "Everybody had an opinion on what we should do, what we should say. When I turned on the TV, media people were saying we should boycott the game. … My feeling, right or wrong, was that we should shut it all out and go out and play for our fans, our families, and for each other. For people to ever think we were playing for Donald Sterling is comical. It wasn’t like before the tape came out, we were putting our hands in before every game and saying, ‘Okay guys, let’s go out and win one for Donald!’"
5) On his feelings about new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer: "It’s [a] little bit ironic to me that the media has tried to turn Ballmer into a meme when they turned a blind eye to Sterling for years. Steve is a good dude. He’s like a cool dad who gives you candy. Donald was like a weird uncle."