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From the Basement: Blake Griffin and the appalling end of “Lob City”

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From the Basement is a weekly column in which the Hullabaloo Sports team discusses its opinion on contemporary sports issues.

Brash, yes, but who in their right mind would start a team rebuild by trading away a franchise cornerstone of nine years? A player who, in the face of a fellow franchise player jumping ship, trusted ownership and signed a five-year, $171 million contract? A player who told ownership during contract negotiations, “I want my legacy to be a Clipper”? The Los Angeles Clippers made this decision Monday night as they traded devout franchise cornerstone Blake Griffin for several mediocre players and a handful of draft picks. This trade undoubtedly will go down in NBA history as the epitome of management-player betrayal.

Griffin began his career as a Los Angeles Clipper in 2009 when he was drafted by the team. Since then he has done nothing but lift the franchise. This pattern continued until the team’s peak in the 2013-14 season, in which it boasted a 57-25 record. Had this conference not been dominated by the Golden State Warriors in the following years, the Clippers may have in fact eventually claimed the Western Conference crown. Without the arrival and stellar play of Griffin, the LA Clippers would have remained the irrelevant franchise it had been considered for most of its history.

In crafting this trade, the Clippers clearly recognized their neediness in the departure of All-Star point guard Chris Paul. The team ultimately decided that the best way to address its current reality in this loss was a total rebuild. While a rebuild may have been the right idea, trading Griffin was the exact wrong way to go about it.

Other than emphatic owner Steve Ballmer, the only individual the Clippers could count on to stay loyal in the wake of Paul’s departure was Griffin. His unwavering dedication, demonstrated by his contract signing and personal statements, could have been counted on as the team worked to rebuild around him as a cornerstone. This, unfortunately, was not the case.

The Clippers’ front office decided instead to trade Griffin, a five-time All-Star honing his craft and working for the betterment of the team, before overpaid players such as Austin Rivers or Wesley Johnson. The organization made the trade even before making a front office or coaching change.

Management even had the opportunity to make a move involving coveted players DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. Several teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, demonstrated prior interest in making a move for one or both of the players. Why trade a loyal, contract-locked Griffin when there are other areas in which salary could be dumped? Griffin is a franchise cornerstone: Williams and Jordan are not.

After Griffin’s prior demonstrations of loyalty, this trade should be looked at as nothing less than ultimate betrayal. The player who brought the Clippers into relevancy, the player who put his full faith in his team, was thrown to the wolves Monday night.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Grant is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected] 

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
From the Basement: Blake Griffin and the appalling end of “Lob City”