Blake Griffin got a bit of revenge against his former team, the Los Angeles Clippers, on Saturday in his first return to the Staples Center since getting traded last January.
The 29-year-old power forward helped his new team edge his old one out with a 109-104 away victory, scoring 44 points in 40 minutes to lead the way.
Griffin was not happy to learn he was being traded to the Detroit Pistons last year and was totally blindsided by the news as he had been told by management that he was in the team's plans for the long term. So when Clippers owner Steve Ballmer approached him with an outstretched hand after warmups on Saturday, the 62-year-old was promptly ignored.
Ballmer had been waiting on the sideline as his former player went through his warmups and approached him when he realized that he was done. Blake, though, was in no mood to exchange pleasantries with the team owner and sped up his exit, racing to the Pistons' locker room while Ballmer yelled his name.
Griffin and Clippers head coach Doc Rivers both opened up about the shocking trade last week, speaking extensively to The Athletic.
“If I didn’t see it coming, I don’t think anybody else would have either," the player said, referring to his teammates, who were as surprised as he was to learn that he was being moved.
“It was hard,” Rivers explained. “It’s not fun, especially when a guy wants to stay and feels like he’s part of the future. Then you call him — or at least try to call him. I actually never talked to him. He didn’t want to take any of our calls. And I get that. I’ve been around that, and I actually respect that. No problem with that one way or the other.
“But it is hard. It is what it is. It is a business at the end of the day. The team had to do what it felt was best for the team’s future. And I was one of the guys that was in on the decision, and I agreed with it. I thought it was the right thing to do.”
What This Means
Griffin clearly hasn't gotten over the way he was dealt with by the Clippers organization and it showed on the court too as he put up a monster performance.
Maybe he will come to terms with it one day. But, for now, he'll be handing his former paymaster the curve.