Happy anniversary: Cards, cake and gifts not required.
While it was not that kind of anniversary for 22-year-old Clippers rookie Blake Griffin, Tuesday's date loomed large in his mind, representing a shift in thinking and approach.
One game away from putting the finishing flourishes on a wildly successful debut season and all-but-certain rookie of the year award, Griffin sat down and recalled the journey from knee patient to NBA marquee man.
"My last day of rehab was … a year ago," Griffin said Tuesday. "I'm blessed to be playing in all 82 games after sitting out all 82."
Griffin will be the first NBA rookie to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since Elton Brand, a former Clipper, did it with the Bulls. With one game remaining in the regular season, Griffin is averaging 22.4 points and 12.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Earlier, Griffin shattered yet another Brand mark: breaking the rookie record for double-doubles; it now stands at 62 games. Then there are his play-making abilities as he showed versatility beyond highlight-making dunks.
On top of that, playing in all 82 games resonates in a major way with Griffin. He will be the only Clipper not to miss a game this season, a statement-making accomplishment, considering questions about his supposed fragility after he missed last season with a fractured left kneecap.
"I know," Griffin said with a wry smile. "That's why it was frustrating for me to hear that. I heard everything. I heard that I was a bust. That I was a waste of a draft pick. That the Clippers messed up. That I was the next Greg Oden. I heard all of that.
"For me, in my mind, I'm not one of those players. I'm not an injury-prone guy. The most games I missed was, like, two in college. For me, it was frustrating. But it made me become patient."
Blake Griffin looks back on a year well-played
Los Angeles Times | Apr 13