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Blake Will Break Your Soul

Blake Griffin

It was a dark, cold, thunderous autumn evening for yours truly. As lightning illuminated the Southern California sky, shooting rays into my rented time-share den, the silhouette of a slender 6-foot-2 male figure, banging his head through a hole in the living room’s plaster wall, became instantaneously clear for a moment, like a fire fly lighting up a glass  jar on a warm Georgia night, before disappearing into a sea of black just as quickly. The rhythmic thumping however, continued.

Only none of that happened, because though a lightning storm Monday night would have been symbolic for Los Angeles Clippers fans, violent rain seldom falls in San Diego.

No, it was a beautiful evening of about 71 degrees. And the skies were as clear as Crystal Pepsi. But I assure you, when I received a text from Britton Dennis, just as my wife and I were about to head to Old Town for a spectacular dinner at Casa de Reyes, I pulled the good ol’ shout/ cry. It was loud, shrill and it was terrifying. And I have no idea what I actually said. But I was ticked.

“Your boy Blake Griffin, out six weeks.”

Damn that text.

I went from a 10.0 on the “Caring about the start of the NBA season” scale, to about a 3.2.

I flipped on ESPN quicker than any man should ever have to and sure enough, the ticker at the bottom of the screen backed up Britton’s story.

Now I’ll admit, once I read the words, “broken kneecap” my mind became filled with images of former Golden Boy and point guard of the future, Shaun Livingston’s (saying his name out loud still makes me cringe…) legs awkwardly splitting like an 11th grade girl forcing the tricky maneuver during varsity cheerleading try-outs. Trust me, if you do not remember the moment the former prep star lost his budding career in the snap of a few fingers, you are better off for it.

So needless to say, with visions of Livingston’s legs (and Blake’s torso and head attached to them) swimming through my mind on repeat, I was indeed figuratively ramming my head through a wall over and over and over and over again.

Then I saw the replay.

A wide open lane.

One of the most athletic big men in the NBA (yes, I already feel comfortable making that claim) soaring through the air.

No one blocking the rim.

A vicious throw-down.

No hanging on the rim.

A fairly soft landing.

And a grimacing rookie.

What the crap? Where was the injury? How in the world did Blake hurt himself on that play?

Admittedly, although I was a fairly good rugby player in college, making myself at worst a moderately skilled athlete, I couldn’t change my genetics of being a 6-foot-nothing white dude without hops. I could barely dunk at my peak. Now? Forget about it. My point is, I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to fly towards the rim (covered or not), grab a hold of it, before dropping back to the ground, on which mere mortals stand.

Still…

How did Blake get hurt on that dunk? Nothing buckled. It didn’t look like his leg was stiff. How did that left knee break?

Was it the Clipper Curse? I don’t know. I don’t really believe in curses. Curses aren’t tangible. Bones are though. The fact that Griffin has now suffered two fairly major injuries with the Clips before ever stepping foot on an NBA court in the regular season, is also tangible.

In that instant, when Griffin grabbed his knee and limped to the Clippers’ bench, three things happened:

A.) Mike Dunleavy went from the potential Coach of the Year (That sentence makes me want to pee on myself and then run outside to tell the whole world that I did indeed just intentionally urinate all over myself.) to potentially fired by Thanksgiving (giving new meaning to the word thankful at the Bates family dinner table).

B.) Baron Davis hung an “out-to-lunch, be back in December” sign around his neck. Really Baron? We’re going to play this game again? I hate you. No, I don’t. I’m sorry, I’m just frustrated. My bad, man.

C.) Hello 2010 lottery!

If you think the playoffs are remotely possible for the Staples Center’s step-child, without Griffin for two months of the season, I’m here to tell you one thing: I like your style. I like it a lot.

But you are dead wrong.

On the plus side though, maybe it will mean a resurgent youthful Clips team, led by Griffin, Eric Gordan and Al Thornton charging the finish line, setting up an optimistic summer of ’10 (speaking of which, The Summer of Ten sounds like The Summer of George to me. And don’t think that I’m not wary of a parallel ending. “This was supposed to be The Summer of George!!!”), where a team with a veteran point guard, a sweet scoring two guard, a franchise power forward, a more than decent bench, the prospect of not one, but two top ten picks (don’t forget, L.A. also owns Minnesota’s unprotected first round pick, thanks to the Sam Cassell trade) and a boat load of cap room, can convince a marquee small forward or swing man to sign a long-term deal.

LeBron, Dwyane, I’m looking right at you. Staring contest, quick, me and you. You WIN! You always do.

(Remind me to stop quoting Will Ferrell SNL sketches. Can you do that for me? Good. Thanks. All of the readers appreciate it.)

I’m hoping that the Shaq experiment fails miserably and Wade gets so ticked at Michael Beasley’s rehab stints, that he wipes his hands of the Heat this summer. If both of those things happen, perhaps the Clips will luck into one of the two.

Far fetched? I really don’t think so. I could see one of those guys in L.A., competing with Kobe for the heart of the city.

Then again, how did this column go from a depressed sports writer lamenting the loss of a third of Blake Griffin’s rookie season, to that same writer gushing about how great 2010 could be?

Maybe I’m delusional. Multiple concussions from banging your head into a wall will do that to a guy.

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