Has it really been a year since Blake Griffin became the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft? Yep. The former University of Oklahoma standout injured his left knee in the Clippers’ final preseason game. The power forward later needed season-ending surgery on his kneecap.
On Tuesday, Griffin made his way to New York City for a special workout sponsored by Subway. Following the workout, SIKIDS.com talked with Blake about getting back on the court, who he hopes the Clippers take in this year’s Draft, and his upcoming rookie year...
SIKIDs.com: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned over the past year?
Blake: Really the importance of taking care of your body in the offseason. Just to make sure that you’re getting enough rest, that you’re preparing the NBA season, which is grueling.
SIKIDS.com: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to kids who are trying to recover from injuries?
Blake: Just making sure you’re taking care of your body. Your body needs rest, especially if you’re recovering from an injury. Eating right is a big part of recovering from an injury. Making sure you don’t rush back is a big thing, but at the same time, making sure you don’t go too slow. You want to push yourself and really find out what you can do and what you can’t do. But at the same time, [do] not push yourself too [hard]. So it’s a very fine line, but with the help of a trainer or with a therapist, you can get back in time.
SIKIDS.com: Would you say you’ve learned the value of patience through all of this?
Blake: Yeah, patience. Just knowing that if you rush an injury it can turn out to be a much longer process. You have to be patient with it and listen to what [trainers] say and make sure you understand what you need to do to get better. Set little goals for yourself and accomplish those little goals.
SIKIDS.com: How is your left knee feeling right now?
Blake: It’s good now. I’m feeling 100 percent just doing my workouts.
SIKIDS.com: Have you been cleared to go full-contact in practices?
Blake: Yeah, I’ve been doing everything, basically.
SIKIDS.com: The Lakers just won yet another championship. What do you think it’s going to take to make the Clippers a legit title contender?
Blake: Just keep adding pieces to the puzzle. You’ve got to have a great team. You see all the teams that do well and are successful in the NBA are teams that have [more than] one superstar. They have a full team of guys who contribute. That’s what we need. We have great players in Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and Baron Davis. So we just need to keep putting pieces around those guys and just keep moving forward, taking little steps.
SIKIDS.com: What type of player do you hope your team picks up with that Number 8 pick in Thursday night’s Draft?
Blake: I actually like (Nevada small forward) Luke Babbitt a lot. I think his game translates well for what we need. I think he’s a talented player and he’s tough player. We need a guy at the three position who can defend, rebound, and score.
SIKIDS.com: What are the chances of LeBron James joining the Clippers next month?
Blake: To be honest, I don’t know. I wish I did know.
SIKIDS.com: You don’t have him on speed dial or anything like that?
Blake: No, but I should work on that. He would be great and so would a lot of other [free agents].
SIKIDS.com: What was it like sitting on the bench all of last season?
Blake: It wasn’t fun.
SIKIDS.com: Did you feel more like a rookie or an assistant coach?
Blake: I felt like a rookie. I was sitting behind the bench. They treat you like a rookie. But it was a good opportunity for me to see things up close and personal and watch some of the best players in the world night-in and night-out.
SIKIDS.com: You and your brother, Phoenix Suns forward Taylor Griffin, played at Oklahoma, a Big 12 school. Did you follow all the different conference realignment scenarios during the past few weeks?
Blake: I did. I didn’t want the [Big 12] to break up. I think the Big 12 is a good conference. If you look at the last several years in basketball and football, you’ve had [national title] contenders in each sport. I don’t see a reason for that conference to break up. I’m glad that they didn’t. I guess now they’ll have to add a few more teams [after Nebraska and Colorado left], but they’ll be all right.
SIKIDS.com: What is Opening Night going to mean to you next season?
Blake: The relief of being able to play again.