Q&A: Blake Griffin

Posted by Unknown on Monday, September 22, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of GQ

In retrospect, this Clippers thing really worked out for you, locale-wise.Absolutely. And it's funny, because when the Clippers had the first pick and they announced that they were gonna draft me, everybody was like, "Uh, you probably should ask not to get drafted. Try to go somewhere else." And I was like, "You know what? Let's just see." And honestly, it wasn't even about L.A., because I hadn't been to L.A. at the time. I thought, "Okay, whatever, Beverly Hills Cop." All I wanted to do was play basketball.
Were you aware of Donald Sterling's reputation then?When the draft lottery came out and the Clippers said they were gonna draft me, I went to Google to find out more about the Clippers, because I didn't know a lot. And I was like, "Okay, team owned by Donald Sterling." So then I typed in "Donald Sterling" in Google, and the first thing that pops up is "Donald Sterling racist." And I was like, "Whoa!" So obviously I explored that, read a whole bunch of articles, read the deposition at one of his court cases. Which was awesome, if you ever have time to read some of the depositions. [laughs]
I've only seen the highlights.Did you see the one where he's talking about being in the back of the limo? You gotta just type in "Donald Sterling deposition." [Later I do, and this is what comes up, from a 2003 suit, regarding a sexual companion: "Well, I fool around sometimes. I do. When a girl seduces me and tells me how much she wants to suck on me and take my shoes off and licks my feet and touches me. When I'm in a limousine, she takes off all her clothes. The limo driver said, 'What is going on?' And she started sucking me on the way to Mr. Koon's house. And I thank her. I thank her for making me feel good."] I'll let you read it, because I don't want to do it—I don't want to do it injustice. And then, at the very end...just read it. [The response: "Sir, the question was, is this your handwriting?"] So I was aware, but not until right before I got drafted.
After you get drafted, and you're reading this stuff—is there any recourse for a player in your situation?No. Not at all. I mean, what was I gonna do? And for five years with the team, it was fine. Nothing came out. Nothing happened. I never really saw him that much. I saw him right when I first got drafted. I had to go to a couple of events that he does, which was awful.
What was your impression of him?The second time I met him... He throws a white party in Malibu every single year, so everyone has to wear white or you can't come. I get there, and this dude is wearing all black. The only person at this party. He throws a white party, he wears all black. And as soon as I get there, he comes to the front, we talk for a second, and he's like, "Come on, I want to introduce you to everyone." Grabs my hand and starts walking me through the party while we're holding hands, and just introduces me to everybody.
Is it true that he would bring women in to the locker room to watch players shower?He would bring them in the locker room. Guys would be in there. The showers are kind of elsewhere. I don't think they would really go back there. But he would bring people in the locker room while we were just in towels. One year he came in and led a "hip hip hooray" chant and held my arm up in the air. Then he went to another teammate and did the same thing. Guys just started scattering as fast as possible. [laughs]
Would you guys commiserate about working for someone like that?No, we really didn't. Guys would tell different stories about their interactions with him. And then when all this came out... We heard that it was gonna come out the day before it came out—our coach told us—and this is during the playoffs. We were up in San Francisco, in a team meeting. And because we didn't know exactly what was said, we were just kind of like, "Oh, okay, well, whatever." And then I remember waking up Saturday morning to, like, twenty texts. This is 7 a.m. And then, throughout the day, just bombarded with texts about it. I ended up turning my phone off, because we were trying to focus.
Did you listen to the tape?Oh yeah. [laughs] I listened to it like the first thing in the morning when I woke up, searched for it and listened to it from beginning to end, and then listened to the second one.
How did you feel, listening?It was unfortunate. I mean, for me, like I said, the first thing I ever Googled about the man, the first thing that popped up was "racist." So I was aware. I hate to say this, and it might sound ignorant, but I wasn't surprised that all this came up. Not necessarily the manner in which it was said, or the exact things, but like I said: This was my first impression of him.
It can't have been fun to hear, though.No, it wasn't. It wasn't fun at all. It was shocking. I was lying there in bed and just listening to it, like, "Wow." And even after I listened to it, I didn't realize how big it was gonna become. Not that I didn't think it was bad. You know, if you have no idea—you just kind of maybe know that Donald Sterling owns the team, you know nothing about him, and you hear all these things, you're like, "Wow, that is crazy! That's nuts!" But for me, and for a lot of people within the program, are just kind of like, yeah, he's said some unfortunate things before. He said them again.
You guys had a team meeting that Saturday at which you spoke. What did you say?A lot of guys spoke. Our coach spoke first. And basically what I said was... We were trying to come up with a plan. Some guys wanted to do something. Some guys didn't want to. I was one of the guys—and I don't know, I might catch flak for this—I was one of the guys who didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to give this one incident the power that it doesn't deserve. You know what I mean? And coincidentally, I had just, for the first time, watched the Jackie Robinson movie and watched how he dealt with it, even though obviously it's a movie. And I've actually read Hank Aaron books and a lot of things. I just felt like the best way to respond to something like that is just to go out and do what we do and not let it affect us. Because we're the ones that get affected, not anybody else. So that's why I took that position. But I completely understood why guys did want to do something. I was just kind of one of the ones that was like, "Let's just play basketball."
Where did the idea to turn your warm-ups inside out before Sunday's game come from?I'm not exactly sure whose idea it was. We had planned on not really doing anything. And then in the locker room, literally forty minutes before tip-off, I'm putting on my stuff, and I put my stuff on the right way, and then somebody came by and was like, "Hey, everybody's doing the..." And so I kind of looked around and made sure this wasn't like a, you know, "Let Blake put his warm-ups on inside out!" [laughs] And everybody was doing it. I think that that game... And again, I can't stress enough that I completely understood the gesture. I completely do. Guys want to do something. But I think that game, we let people outside of the locker room get into our locker room. Because everybody was getting texts. I was getting texts, like, "What are you guys gonna do?" "Y'all should do this." "Y'all should do that." And I think we let all that just come in and cloud our—our coach calls it our box. Like, "Don't let anybody into your box." You know, just do your same routine. There's gonna be friends, family, especially playoffs; don't let anybody into your box before the game. And I think we let people into our box.
Do you think it ultimately affected you guys in the playoffs?I want to say no, but at the same time, even not trying to think about something is energy and effort. The one thing I didn't want to do is use that as an excuse. Because every player and every person at some point deals with issues—personal issues, whatever it is, they deal with issues. And that was our issue. And we had a full team of guys who could kind of lean on each other, so we were fortunate in that sense. It's not like it was an individual thing or it affected two people. It affected all of us.
Were you satisfied with the way the league handled it?Yeah. I thought it was swift. They didn't let it linger for a long time. They did what they needed to do.
It's bittersweet in a way, right? Because he's going to end up richer.Right. And I saw people's comments, like, "Good job, guys! We just let the racist guy..." But you're allowed to be racist. That's the sad part, you know what I mean? You can be. So in the end, whoever it was that leaked these tapes did him a favor. Because he did get richer. If nothing had happened, and this summer he was like, "I'm gonna sell the team," it wouldn't have gone for what it went for, I don't think.
It's doubly complicated. because some portion of that sale price is you. It's value that you imparted to that team.Yeah, but that's how it works. I'm more than blessed to be able to play a PE sport for money. [laughs] That's what it is, when you break it down. I get paid to go do something that I enjoy doing, and, I mean, yeah, he's gonna make a lot of money, but I've been fortunate to make a good amount of money as well. It's not like I'm like, "Man, I should have been given a cut of that!"
Were you surprised that the team went for what it went for?Yeah. I thought it was gonna go for a lot. I thought it was gonna be in the billions. But I didn't think 2 billion.
The Lakers had a disastrous off-season. Are the Clippers finally the alpha team in L.A.?No, because for a lot of people, it's about history. And nothing we can ever do will ever take away from their history. They've had unbelievable success as a franchise. And I think in this current day, we're the better team. I do. But I mean, if you ask anybody that, they're gonna say that, you know—so that's not a real controversial statement.
As a fan, what did you think of LeBron returning to Cleveland?I think it's great. The way he did it—the way he released that statement or article, whatever you want to call it—I think it shows a lot about him. And to be honest, it shows that he's a much bigger person than I think people gave him credit for. Because that's a tough thing to forgive. I mean, this man's family's lives were threatened. People constantly yelling at him. And not just Cleveland fans—from all over the world, everywhere he went, he got booed. The Cleveland fans burned this man's jersey in the street. He was Osama bin Laden. He got so much hate for choosing to go. And I get it. It was about the way he went about it. But that would have been tough, to just really be like, "Okay, you know what, I'm gonna come back home. I'm forgiving them. If you guys forgive me, I'm forgiving you." I think that takes a lot.
Who's the favorite next year?I feel like you gotta say the Spurs. Just because, year after year, they never go away. They're like the model of success when it comes to building an NBA team. Tim Duncan is another perfect example of a guy who's over the years lost athleticism but stayed right there at the highest level, because of his work ethic and the way he goes about it. So you can never count them out.
What about the East? Who's the favorite there?I think you gotta say the Cavs now. And then also I think Chicago's gonna be very, very good, especially with Derrick Rose back. I think, if he can stay healthy, I think Chicago's gonna be very good.
How are you feeling about your own game and your own prospects?I don't know, man. I've seen so many ups and downs. Every summer, I just try to put in the work, and then whatever shape the team takes, that's kind of how it takes. If I need to be, like, a guy that scores a lot, I'm willing to do that. Two seasons ago, I didn't average as many points. The lowest I ever had, my career low. And I wasn't, like, upset about it or anything. Just, that was just how the team took shape. The starters didn't play as many minutes. Played career-low minutes, career-low shots, and average career-low points, which seems on par. But I just felt like, after my first year, my second and third, I just took so much heat. I didn't think I was doing that poorly, to take this amount of heat. You know what I mean? And I hear almost everything. And I'm not sure, not exactly sure why.
Maybe I don't follow the league closely enough. What heat were you taking?People just really loved to say how I'm this one-dimensional player, like I'm just bad at this, bad at that, bad at this, all I do is dunk. And it always bothered me. I think last year it changed a little bit. Obviously people are still gonna say whatever they want to say.
You know the band that gets really sick of their hit song? Is that dunking to you now?No, because it's not like I regret doing it. [laughs] But at the same time, in one sense, people are like, "Oh, man, I love your dunks!" I'm like, "Thank you. I appreciate that." And then some people are like, "Man, that's all you can do!" "He's not a basketball player, he just dunks." I get it. Whatever you want to say. I just think that as a player, I've kind of experienced an emotional roller coaster.
Why do people seem to get into it with you so much on the court?I like to play physical, and I'm a big guy, and I think sometimes—maybe sometimes I am pushing somebody and I don't realize how hard I'm pushing them. And then they do it back, and it's kind of like, "Jeez!" You know what I mean? It looks worse because it's kind of almost like their reaction to me. And then at the same time, sometimes I'm like, okay, maybe it's just because I'm big and I play physical.
What was it that Klay Thompson said before the playoff series? That you were a "bull in a china shop"?Bull in a china shop, yeah. But the thing about that is, it depends on who you are. If you're the bull, being a bull in a china shop is not a bad thing. If you're the china, it's a bad thing. So I want to be the bull. I don't want to be the china.
Does off-the-court stuff factor into it? Like the fact that you do commercials?Probably. For some people, I don't know, probably. I mean, when I see a guy doing a commercial, I don't care. It's not like I see Kevin Durant in a commercial, I'm like, "Psshh, this guy!"
But you guys are in a rarefied category.Maybe. Yeah, I guess. But even, you know, as a high schooler, as a college kid, my first year, I wasn't—seeing guys on commercials—being like, "What's this dude doing?" You know, that's just not really my personality. But I feel like some people do. It probably does have an effect.
Do you think about life post-basketball?Yeah, I do. I don't have like a clear-cut plan, but I'm 90 percent sure that I won't be involved in basketball. I'll obviously be supportive and help out there, but I don't want to stay in the NBA world or anything like that. I think once I'm done, I'll be done.
Athletes on your level, your whole life is sports. And then, one day, it ends. That's an interesting challenge.And retirement comes way before anyone else's retirement does. A great career for us is fifteen years. A greatcareer is fifteen years. I started when I was 20. If I play fifteen years, by 35, whatever, I could be retired.
When you think about that post-basketball life, what do you think about?I wonder what I really want to do. I would love to go intern at a production company and just kind of see the ins and outs of it. Because I'm one of those people, I don't know that I'm really going to like something until I really dive into it.
You think about a production company because you think maybe, at some point, you'd want to be involved in film and TV?Yeah. I think maybe.
I've heard that Judd Apatow sends you scripts for notes?No, no. I wish! That would be awesome. My buddy Neal Brennan, who co-created Chappelle's Show, he sends me stuff. It's more like a favor. He just sends me stuff, and he's like, "Punch this up." And I don't exactly know what I'm doing, but I try.
How do you punch up a script?This is punch-up strictly on jokes, not trying to make it a better script. I can't, like, necessarily come up with an awesome joke that's written out and works, in a way. But if I see it and read the whole script and understand it, I think I can just come up with ideas, you know? Or if I was on set, and somebody was going through lines, and they had kind of a big joke at the end, I would be like, "Try saying this," or "Try saying that." I would love to be able to do that. But sitting down and having to write a script—I don't know how people do it.
What's the last movie that made you laugh?The movie I probably watch a lot, the most recent comedy that came out, was This Is the End. I thought the first half was so funny. And then it got, it got a little dark. [laughs] And then it kind of came back toward the end.
The jerking-off scene in that movie is the funniest thing.Yeah, absolutely. I've watched that scene probably like thirty times. It's sad, but I have.
Who's a better comic actor, you or Michael Jordan?[laughs] I hope I am! I hope to God I am. If I'm not, I'll probably just walk away right now and never do anything involving...I won't watch any other comedy show ever again, or stand-up.
Do you have an all-time-favorite NBA comic?NBA, no, not really. But sports: Peyton Manning. I thought when he hosted Saturday Night Live, he was by far the best athlete that's ever hosted. But that's also not, like—
A high bar. Who are the other NBA comics?Shaq. Charles Barkley, I guess, could be considered NBA....
Charles Barkley seems to have an issue with you.Yeah. I mean, I thought we were cool, and then all of a sudden... I think the whole former-player thing, where they come and they're now analysts, it's hard, because they don't want to give it up to anybody. Unless they really, really have to. Or you have a relationship with them. And I never really had a relationship with him. To this day, I don't think I've even met him.
He's been a constant critic of yours. He's called you out for flopping and suggested that you're overrated.Yeah, it's been a long time. I'm not a big fan. [laughs] It's hard. As a kid, I was a huge fan. And then, after so many times of hearing somebody say something negative about you, then it's like, okay, this is like a thing—it's a personal thing. You know what I mean? It's like the saying "Don't meet your heroes." I haven't met him, but I don't really need to anymore. Which is unfortunate.
You got to meet Will Ferrell, who is one of your heroes, right?Yeah, I did. That was awesome. I found that kind of funny, though, because we were shooting a Funny or Die thing at his house, and I pulled up to his house, and every word he was saying I was hanging on, waiting for an awesome punch line, you know? Like waiting for everything to be a joke. And he'd be like, "So how's your summer going? Is your brother still playing basketball?" I was just always waiting. Not that he wasn't funny. But I walked away thinking I probably looked like an idiot, just smiling at him, waiting for something awesome to happen.
Your older brother is still playing, right? He was better than you for most of your lives, then all of a sudden he wasn't. Was there a precise moment when that happened?There wasn't a definite moment, but it was sometime when he left for college. I saw him when he was going through the process of getting recruited and playing travel basketball and all these things. I watched him. I watched how he prepared, you know? I watched how meticulous... My brother's a very smart guy, very diligent, and I watched how he went through the process. Every day he did something, and it was for a purpose. He would get up, he would work out, he would go shoot, play pickup, I would see him stretching at home or really taking care of his body, and I just kind of fell into that. So when he left, I continued doing that and tried to just ramp it up, ramp it up, ramp it up. And then, I think, somewhere around that time is when I caught up a little bit.
Was that a weird moment for you?No. You know what? My brother doesn't have a jealous bone in his body. I've never, ever felt from him any types of jealousy.
You guys grew up in a religious household, right?Yeah. We went to church every Sunday—not every Sunday, but we went to church a lot of times. And I went to a religious school. So I was constantly around it.
Do you still go to church?I haven't in a while. But I still—I go with my brother and his wife. They have a little Bible-study thing out here. What's great about now is, growing up and being in Oklahoma, I think the idea of people who are religious is they try to shove their religion on you, and they think that that's the only way. They're very judgmental. And I try to kind of take the approach of "Whatever it is you do, cool." Like, "Don't judge me for doing what I want to do. I'm not gonna judge you for doing what you want to do." And I think that's what's cool about out here.
Were you surprised at the reaction when you said recently that you believed in creationism?Yeah, I was a little bit—just because, like, if you said you believe in evolution, I'm not gonna be like, "You fucking idiot!" [laughs] You know what I mean? I'm just gonna kind of be like, "That's whatever."
How does it feel to be widely criticized for a sincerely held view?I think my previous four years of basketball, and being in this kind of thing, just prepared me for it, because I was like, "Oh, wow, people really cared that I said that." And then I just kind of let it go.
Do you believe in science?I believe in science. I believe in all of that. I just... Honestly, when I'm at the beach and I'm looking at the ocean, I'm looking at the mountains and the sun is setting, I'm seeing people running up and down, laughing, having fun, I'm like, "This had to be created. This is created." And that's my personal thing.
So it's not an elaborate theory about, "Okay, man and dinosaurs were both here at the same time on this particular date...."I might not have put thought into it, honestly. [laughs] I just kind of like, oh, yeah, creationism, that sounds good! But I guess I never really put so much thought into it, because I never thought that people would be pissed or really make me think twice about it. If you ask like 90 percent of the people in Oklahoma, they'd agree. And then when you get to coasts, it's very, very different. And a lot of people are very closed-minded when it comes to things like that, and don't—I don't want to say closed-minded, but it's their way or the highway. And it's unfortunate that people on both sides are very closed-minded about it. Because there are religious people who are very closed-minded to a lot of things that aren't necessarily right, in my opinion. So it's on both sides.
Were there religious teachings that you feel like you grew out of or you reconsidered when you came out to Los Angeles?I hate when I see Christians, or whatever religion it is, protesting gays and having signs that say, like, "God hates gays." Because I've studied a lot of different religions; going to Christian school, we had a class where we would look at different religions, and we would kind of break them down and compare and contrast. And the Bible, take the Bible. So you believe in the Bible? God used women who were prostitutes, He used people that were stealers, people that were considered sinners, whatever the term may be, and He used them as His...to be examples of His teachings and things. Not make an example out of them, but actually use them. So, like, how can you say that God hates anybody?
Not to put gay men and women on the same level as—No, no, no, no. I'm saying, how could He be mad at somebody for liking the same sex? I don't get it. And it also makes me mad, because as a religious person, it makes you look bad. I think it's unfortunate.
What else is in your life that's not basketball? You have a son, right?He's 11 months old. He'll be 1 on August first.
What have you learned from fatherhood so far?This is what everybody says, and I didn't really get it. People were like, "Oh, it's so life-changing, it makes you think about things in a different way," and you're always like, "Oh yeah, totally." But then, when it happens, you're like, "Whoa. All those people were right!" I just feel changed, in a way. I really look forward to spending time with this little person who can't talk, can't do anything for himself besides chew and eat. [laughs] 
Are you the father you hoped you'd be?I wish I was able to be around more. The thing I hate the most is being gone for like two weeks and only seeing him on FaceTime. I missed the first time he rolled over, which isn't a huge thing, but at the time I was like, "Man." I had—not a breakdown, but I just had a moment where I was like, "This sucks!" You know, just missing stuff like that. But at the same time, it makes the stuff that I don't miss that much more special.
How do you date women now?That's probably been the biggest trial-and-error area of my life. And I can't say today I have it down completely. But I was fortunate. I dated a girl my first couple of years out here, and it was great. We got along great. And eventually that ended, but still today we're very cool. But it's really been trial-and-error. And there were a couple of times where I didn't get burned in the sense of, like, you know, getting money taken or anything like that, but just like, whenever it ended, it ended poorly, and then kind of got put out there a little bit. And it's just kind of an eye-opening experience. But it's hard, man. Like, there's so many... People just think about L.A. and they think, "Oh, there's so many beautiful women out here," and things of that nature. But it is so hard to find just like a decent, like straight, you know, across-the-line, just like good girl out here. And I think part of it might be because I'm used to, you know, the midwestern kind of girls, and things like that. But I honestly haven't really truly dated anybody for a while. Not in a real close sense.
Did you like growing up in the Midwest?I did. I loved it. And you know, people always kind of asked about, "What was it like growing up in Oklahoma?" That was all I knew. I didn't really see, like, the beach or the ocean till I was 10 years old. You know, I didn't know that there was all this, like, these other cool places to live. But I loved it, and I still love it there.
When the Clippers go back to OKC, are fans aware that you're from there?Mm-hmm. Especially OU fans. Like Oklahoma fans, and then Oklahoma State fans, they're not fans. [laughs] So it's kind of like mixed, right? Some people are like, "He's an Oklahoma guy." Like, "All right," you know, "we're not gonna boo you." And then some Oklahoma State fans are like, "Boooo! You suck!" And then OU fans are pretty supportive. But people in Oklahoma are obsessed with the Thunder, because they never had a team until the year right before I left college. And I think people kind of get lost in it a little bit, so like even fans that are OU fans, the people that were like cheering for me in college, are now, like, "Man, you suck!"
That must be a very interesting place for you to play.It is, because, like, especially now when I go back, now that the Clippers make the playoffs and we play them now in the playoffs, it's kind of like you go back home, and I've always felt the most comfortable at this place, and now it's kind of like a little weird, like...
There's some dude being like, "Fuck you!"[laughs] Like, waving his Thunder flag. Like, "Go home, pussy!" "All right! Thanks, man! Good to see you, Mr. Johnson!" He's the guy who gave me Popsicles. Yeah, it's funny, because Kevin Durant went to Texas. Texas and Oklahoma are huge rivals. Oklahomans supposedly hate people that go to UT. So now he's on the Thunder, and everybody in Oklahoma—along with everybody else—loves him. And now people from Oklahoma hate mebecause I play for the Clippers! It's interesting what sports do to people.