Former No. 1 overall pick and slam dunk champion Blake Griffin received a rude awakening recently when he was not only benched by head coach Steve Nash but removed from the Nets’ rotation altogether. LaMarcus Aldridge certainly appears to have more left in the tank than Griffin, so being replaced by LA doesn’t seem like the issue, but being told he’s not going to play regularly was more of a swift kick to the nether regions.
“LA has been playing unbelievable,” Griffin said of Aldridge. “So, I totally get starting him, especially [with] Joe [Harris] out. “Being completely out of it, though, I didn’t necessarily see that coming.”
Give Griffin all the credit for taking his benching in stride and not making a fuss publicly about what he used to be and feeling entitled to a starting role in Brooklyn. We’ve seen this many times in sports and especially the NBA, so let’s not act like it’s not a thing. Formerly great players who can’t acknowledge when their time as “great” players is up and refuse to accept a lesser role.
I don’t think this is a situation where Blake completely fades into the background, and we don’t see him again this year, but we can all agree that if he desires to make it back into the lineup, he’ll need to pick up his game soon. Maybe trying to deal with Giannis a few months ago took that much of a toll on him. Blake hasn’t been his former super athletic self for a while, but this season has been much more of a struggle for the five-time All-NBA selection.
Griffin turns 33 next spring, so his days in the NBA are likely numbered at this point anyway. I feel at some point coach Nash will call Blake’s number again later this season, and it could be in a significant spot in the postseason. Whether Griffin is prepared to answer the bell will be the question.
And speaking of questions, is it too soon to start the Blake Griffin to the Hall of Fame conversation? Because of the lenient criteria of the Naismith Hall of Fame, I’d say he gets in within his first couple of years of eligibility. But if Griffin continues trying to hold on, he may eventually end up in the same category as Dwight Howard (which is crazy) currently finds himself. We’ll just have to see how the rest of Griffin’s year with the Nets plays out and see where he goes from there.