Past back and knee injuries have prevented Blake Griffin from participating in major Team USA games before, but that won't be the case now. Griffin is finally getting ready to suit up with his country's letters on his chest.
Over at the L.A. Times, Ben Bolch writes about the anticipation of one of the NBA's best players:
Griffin didn't have quite the statistically dominant season last year that he did a couple of seasons ago, when he finished third in MVP voting behind winner Kevin Durant and runner-up LeBron James, but that didn't matter come the postseason. He averaged 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game in leading the Clippers to the second round of the postseason, eventually watching his team fall in seven games to the Houston Rockets during the Western Conference Finals.
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We know how can perform on the big stage. Now, we just wait to see what that means for every other national team.
He made the U.S. team leading up to the London Olympics in 2012 before experiencing discomfort in his left knee that required surgery.
In 2010, he couldn’t play in the world championships because he was rehabbing from the stress fracture in his left kneecap that forced him to miss what should have been his rookie season.
The year before that, it was a strained right shoulder that forced him to miss Team USA’s minicamp.
All of which has made wearing the letters “USA” across his chest this week during another minicamp at the University of Nevada Las Vegas all the more meaningful.
“It would be the chance of a lifetime,” Griffin said Wednesday of representing his country.
It was about this point four years ago that Griffin had to shut down his most recent Olympic bid. He completed training camp before his knee started bothering him the day before an exhibition. Griffin flew home while his teammates went on to London and won the gold medal.
“Injuries happen,” Griffin said, “but just to be on the cusp of going to your first Olympic games and then have it all taken away, it was tough mentally. It was tough to watch games.”
Griffin is slated to play in the intrasquad showcase Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, giving Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski a versatile power forward he has not been able to utilize much in previous competitions.