There is no better way to celebrate winning an award for being a good teammate than by throwing one of your teammates under the bus.
All right, so that is kind of a harsh way to describe what Chauncey Billups said about Blake Griffin on Monday, after the Clippers guard was named the inaugural winner of the NBA’s Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award. Billups, appearing as a guest on ESPN’s First Take, disputed a characterization of Griffin as “soft.” He would have been better off just ending there.
“I don’t agree that Blake Griffin is soft,” Billups said. “What I will say about Blake is that maybe he’s too nice of a guy, because there’s been times in games where people take shots at Blake. And I tell him, if that’s me, you’re going to have to take this two- or three-game suspension, and I’m going to punish somebody.
“That’s just how I’m built. Blake is not really built like that. He’s … too soft of a guy inside to be like, ‘All right, I’m just going to hurt somebody.’ He just won’t do it. I wish he would, and I think that people would look at him a lot different if he did that. But he’s just not that kind of person.”
Griffin may be unwilling to hurt a fellow player — and Billups may consider that a bad thing — but anyone is naive if they believe Griffin simply turns the other cheek. Now that Manu Ginobili is on the decline, no player exaggerates contact trying to draw a foul, and now that Bruce Bowen is out of the league, nobody sneaks in clandestine elbows while the ref isn’t looking, more than Griffin. He may be a “nice guy,” and his Kia commercials are excellent, but he doesn’t need to get dirtier, by any means.
That sort of tiresome activity makes Griffin and the Clippers virtually unwatchable, despite all their highlights. The last thing Griffin needs to add to the mix is potentially injury-causing rough play.