Blake Griffin pens fascinating piece for ‘The Players’ Tribune’ about Donald Sterling
Blake Griffin proves he can be as adept articulating his thoughts with the written word as he can be mesmerizing with his vertical leap in a thoughtful essay about disgraced former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
The essay appears on “The Players’ Tribune”, the Derek Jeter-fronted website launched shortly after the Yankees legend’s retirement whose purpose is giving fans unfettered access while providing athletes with a forum to express their unfiltered thoughts.
Griffin has been named a Senior Editor for the site, joining Danica Patrick and Russell Wilson. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback previously penned an essay for the site where he admitted to being a bully that generated a lot of discussion.
Griffin’s fascinating and provocative piece is sure to draw a lot of attention as well. Entitled, “The Boss,” Griffin describes at great length what it was like to play for an NBA team owned by renowned racist whose acts of insensitivity were often so outrageous they sunk below the level of contemptible, especially for an individual who was a figurehead of a multimillion dollar enterprise.
Griffin explains how he felt when he learned he’d been drafted by the Clippers and Sterling, who the superstar likens to a “weird uncle,” as the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
When I knew the Clippers were drafting me, the first thing I did was type Donald Sterling’s name into Google. The first hit that came up was “Donald Sterling is a racist.” I read an article on how he didn’t want minorities to live in his apartment buildings. My first thought was, Wow this guy is really, really a racist … how is he an owner of an NBA team?
My second thought was, Wow, these articles are from 2003 and 2008. I guess everybody already knows about this stuff and just doesn’t care.
As players, we’re not supposed to really care about anything but basketball. We’re just supposed to perform. To be honest, I didn’t ever really think about bringing up Sterling’s past. What was I supposed to do? Just picture me at the press conference my rookie year. “Uh … hey, guys, before we talk about today’s game, did you happen to see that investigative report on my owner?”
He also describes an incredibly awkward scene he refers to as the “White Party,” a soiree in Malibu where Sterling led him around introducing him to people, all the while treating the young man like a commodity instead of a human being.
Donald Sterling had me by the hand. You know that thing elderly women do where they grab the top of your hand with just their fingers and lead you around? That’s what he was doing. We were in Malibu for his annual White Party, and it was the first time I was meeting him since the Clippers had drafted me in the spring of 2009. He led me through the house to the balcony overlooking his tennis court. The whole party was set up out there. White tents. White umbrellas. White cloth. I showed up in all white. Everyone showed up in all white. Then there was Donald, standing on the balcony overlooking it all, wearing all black. “Isn’t this just fabulous?” he said.
I was hoping to escape down the stairs, find one of my teammates and blend in with the rest of the crowd. I tried to pull my hand away. Nope. Things were about to get weirder. Two blonde models showed up on either side of me. They had clearly been hired for the event. I knew this because they were wearing size XXXX-L Clippers T-shirts tied at the stomach. I looked at Sterling. He had a big dumb grin on his face. I looked at one of the girls, as if to say, “Uhhh, you don’t have to do this.” She looked back: “Uhhh, yes I do.”
So I walked down the stairs with the two girls arm-in-arm, hoping that was the end of it. That was not the end of it. At the bottom of the stairs, Donald grabbed my hand again. I tried to do the old shake-and-release move. No dice. He kept holding on. “Blake, isn’t this fabulous? I need to introduce you to everyone.”
The essay marks the first time Griffin has discussed at length what it was like to play for a team owned by Sterling. When the controversy regarding the infamous tape originally blew wide open earlier this year, Griffin, along with his teammates, felt uneasy about really going into any detail about it, unsure of what the future held.
But now, given that the transition of ownership to Steve Ballmer is complete, Griffin clearly feels a lot more comfortable recalling some of the uglier and often reprehensible conduct of a man who was once more or less his boss … or at least signed his checks.
(photo credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)