University of Oklahoma dedicates center to Blake Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Blake Griffin stood inside the new performance center on the campus where he once starred and knew this project went far beyond him.
The former Oklahoma star was on hand Saturday for the dedication of the Griffin Family Performance Center. Griffin, the AP Player of the Year in 2009, made the largest donation ever from a Sooner basketball player. The school would not disclose the amount.
“I’m a little overwhelmed right now,” the Detroit Pistons forward said. “I just can’t find the words.”
The school’s Board of Regents agreed to name the $7 million facility for Griffin, but he wanted his family included. Griffin said his brother, former Sooner Taylor Griffin, helped with the planning.
“There was a rendering early on that was the Blake Griffin Performance Center, and I hated it,” he said. “It made me feel weird just because my whole lives, my brother and I have been supported by my parents. They are the ones driving us to practice, working two jobs to make sure we had the things we needed — shoes, uniforms, all that. This whole thing, again, has been a group effort.”
Griffin and the Pistons will train at the facility before their Oct. 3 preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It includes basketball training courts, free weights and areas for stretching, cardiovascular training and strength testing. There are locker rooms, an exam and recovery area and a fueling station. The approximately 16,000 square-foot addition has been in use the past two months.
“We’ve tried to give them every tool possible,” Griffin said. “So if a kid really wants to earn it and they want to work hard enough, they have everything that they need. There’s stuff in here that I’ve never used and I’ve never had in my whole NBA career. That’s pretty special.”
One of Griffin’s favorite things is the alumni locker room. Former Sooners Buddy Hield and Trae Young, current NBA players who were in town for alumni weekend, have lockers with their names on them at the facility so they’ll feel at home when they return during the offseason.
Athletic director Joe Castiglione said it has already affected recruiting.
“Just look at a face when they walk in,” he said. “The eyes are wide as saucers, the mouth is agape, the wows, the can’t believe it, blown away, incredible. They immediately start imagining what they could do with this type of training center. Those are the takeaways you get, and obviously that’s what we sought.”
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