Blake Griffin, who was nearing his return from a quadriceps injury, will miss an additional six weeks of action with a broken right index finger, this after assaulting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff. The incident occurred in Toronto on Saturday night, as Griffin hit Matias Testi inside and outside of a restaurant.
Griffin took to Twitter on Tuesday, expressing regret for his actions and apologizing to his teammates, fans and the Clippers organization.
“I think the amazing thing is that the Clippers kept it quiet for as long as they did,” LA Times columnist Helene Elliott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. When was the last time you can remember – in a world where everybody has a cell phone camera, Instagram and everything else – that something like this was kept quiet for as long as this was. The Clippers put out a statement saying they are investigating, but I would not be surprised if they suspend him or fine him or do something in addition to whatever the league does. Doc Rivers was genuinely mad about this, and I don’t blame him. Everybody’s immediate response was, ‘Oh, well, it’s the Clippers.’ And Doc is really trying hard to get away from that. He’s trying to establish a different identity for this team, and this kind of incident just doesn’t help.”
Griffin, 26, has not played since Christmas. The Clippers (29-16), who are fourth in the Western Conference, are 12-3 without him.
“It was a selfish thing to do,” Elliott continued. “You get mad at somebody, the guy works for the team – I don’t know. Threaten to get the guy fired, walk out of the restaurant if you’re that mad. This is a guy who he clearly knew. They’d been friends. If it gets to an explosion point, I wonder if there wasn’t anybody who tried to separate them or tried to cool him down and just couldn’t do it. It’s just a really selfish thing to do, to take yourself away from the team for as long as he’s going to be.”
It is unknown whether Griffin or Testi had been drinking at the time of the incident.
“No one has mentioned that, and I think that’s something that is difficult to prove,” Elliott said. “Obviously if there was no police report and no arrest, then there were no blood tests done at the time. It’s impossible to say that right now. It’s one guy’s word against the other guy’s word. Looking at it now, these are two grown men who behaved like babies, who behaved like brats. You’d think that it might involve alcohol, but you can’t know for sure.”
Either way, owner Steve Ballmer has to be irate at Griffin, who is averaging 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 30 games this season. Missing that production for the last 15 games has been hard enough, but missing it for another six weeks?
“I think (Ballmer) wants to establish this team as a legitimate contender for a title and get rid of all those old images of the Clippers as losers who can’t get out of their own way,” Elliott said. “He has a lot of money invested in Blake Griffin and in this team, so obviously he was angry – and he has every right to be.”